Alcatel-Lucent intros metro WDM system based on 'Zero Touch Photonics'

OCTOBER 23, 2008 By Meghan Fuller Hanna -- Alcatel-Lucent today announced its 'Zero Touch Photonics' concept and unveiled a new metro WDM platform, the 1830 Photonic Service Switch (PSS), which the company claims "transforms traditional WDM networking."

OCTOBER 23, 2008 By Meghan Fuller Hanna -- Alcatel-Lucent (search for Alcatel-Lucent) today announced its 'Zero Touch Photonics' concept and unveiled a new metro WDM platform, the 1830 Photonic Service Switch (PSS), which the company claims "transforms traditional WDM networking."

In a conference call held this morning, Josè Mir, director of WDM product strategy, noted that the company's Zero Touch Photonics concept was developed following numerous customer discussions. These customers identified three main challenges that effect WDM networks today.

The first is manual reconfiguration or intervention. In most cases, a skilled technician must be sent into the field to configure a node or multiple nodes and turn up the service. And this leads to the second challenge: the likelihood of human error. "A lot of cables, a lot of connectors, a lot of manual processing can lead to misconnections that, if not detected immediately, can create operational problems," explained Mir.

The third challenge is one of fault localization. When a fault occurs at the photonic layer, it's not always easy to identify the cause or even the location, said Mir.

By contrast, the Zero Touch Photonic eliminates the need for frequent on-site interventions and provides a WDM network that is more flexible to design and install, easier to operate, manage, and monitor, where wavelength services can be deployed faster and reconfigured according to more dynamic traffic demands, said the company.

Thanks to intelligent software and a new photonic architecture, the 1830 PSS enables end-to-end operations by the Network Operations Center (NOC).

The 1830 PSS, which Mir called "the premiere example of [Alcatel-Lucent's] concept of Zero Touch Photonics," features three key architectural building blocks. The first, Tunable + Reconfigurable OADM, is an architectural feature first introduced in the company's multi-reach DWDM system, the 1626 Light Manager. The company is coupling this architecture with the Wavelength Tracker technology it acquired in the April 2007 acquisition of Tropic Networks. (See "Alcatel-Lucent to acquire Tropic Networks.")

The Wavelength Tracker allows the operator to monitor the health of the network in real-time, without the need for an optical spectrum analyzer or other external test equipment. "It's a very simple and cheap solution that will [allow] the operator to monitor not only the status of a given fiber, for instance, but also to measure the optical power of a given Lambda, the overall optical power, the degradation of the fiber--whatever the optical parameter," said Mir. "The network is kept totally under control."

Finally, the 1830 PSS features a high-density design; the system today supports 44 x 10G channels, and it is "ready" for 88 x 40G channels, Mir reported. (Alcatel-Lucent is also "totally engaged" in the support of 100G traffic, though Mir declined to offer a specific timeline for its availability. "It will depend on customer demand," he said.)

The increased density of the system also furthers the company's 'Green' agenda, enabling space savings and lower power consumption per bit.

In addition, a set of network design and planning tools, integrated with a service-aware network management system, will help operators in various stages of network deployment and operation, from helping them design the system offline to providing monitoring and auto-diagnosis of the system once it's up and running--all with minimal manual intervention.

According to a business case developed by Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs, a network built with the 1830 PSS can expect to see a more positive return than one built with a fixed OADM. A baseline case of expected traffic growth yields a 94% improvement in net present value (NPV) of investment. Scenarios built using more optimistic and pessimistic traffic growth levels delivered similar results.

In addition to a 78% operational savings over that five-year period, Mir said the company also noticed capital expenditure savings. "Capex saving in the sense that the tunable concept, the Zero Touch Photonic concept, will make better use of the infrastructure deployed," he explained. "Less capex put in the field is able to satisfy the traffic growth much better than a traditional WDM system. All in all," he added, "the cost saving that this will produce will create a return on investment [ROI] something like 33% earlier."

The company plans to market the 1830 PSS WDM system worldwide and is already delivering it to at least one Tier 1 operator.

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