Optical Broadband Services: The keys to success

By Kevin Drury, Nortel Networks -- The ability to address an enterprise's desire to outsource is appealing to service providers because this will allow them to increase their share of wallet. In addition to traditional data private line connections and local, long distance, and wireless voice services, service providers may now offer new services, including managed Internet-Protocol (IP) telephony, IP virtual private networks, as well as hosted security, storage, and managed Web sites.

Sep 2nd, 2004

By KEVIN DRURY
Nortel Networks

Many of today's enterprises are outsourcing non-core business elements, in an attempt to keep operating costs under control and to focus human resource departments on their core competencies. Additionally, chief information officers (CIOs) are faced with what has been coined, "the tyranny of Information Technology (IT)," whereby enterprises must spend money on IT just to keep up with their competitors.

It has become increasingly difficult to wring a competitive advantage out of one's IT department. The CIOs must support an ever-increasing number and variety of applications, and the associated costs are accelerating at a pace that is quickly exceeding existing budgets. To make matters worse, enterprises rely on IT departments to increase employee productivity and even grow revenues. IT infrastructure is now a key means to communicate with the end customer--to disseminate information or act as a new sales channel for online ordering. The CIO is also challenged to leverage the IT infrastructure to anticipate customer requirements and provide additional intelligence on customer purchasing habits and trends.

These enterprise business drivers create a new revenue opportunity for service providers. The ability to address an enterprise's desire to outsource is appealing to service providers because this will allow them to increase their addressable enterprise share of wallet. In addition to traditional services such as data private line connections and local, long distance, and wireless voice services, service providers may now offer new services, including managed Internet-Protocol (IP) telephony, IP virtual private networks (VPNs), as well as hosted security, storage, and managed Web sites. It has been estimated that the service provider revenue opportunity for these outsourcing services is greater than the revenue derived from today's established telecommunications services.

To address this emerging opportunity, service providers are accelerating a wider deployment of optical broadband services, including storage extension and Optical Ethernet connectivity services, as well as managed wavelength or transparent services. These broadband connectivity services enable the cost effective switching and transport of the aforementioned Ethernet and IP-based outsourcing services. Storage extension allows enterprises to remotely replicate their critical data and consolidate servers and storage devices, while mitigating business risk by enabling business continuity and disaster recovery with no single point of failure. Optical Ethernet connectivity services allow enterprise to converge their voice, video, and data applications over a single infrastructure. Additionally, the high availability and network reliability of this service ensures the necessary performance to support real-time, mission-critical applications--and can reduce an enterprise's data communication operations costs by 50%. Finally, managed wavelength services address the enterprises' unique security and bandwidth needs in a flexible environment.

That said, service providers are not without their own challenges, including subscriber churn, declining revenue due to increased competition, and the need to generating positive cash flow. As a result, service providers are increasingly selective with their capital expenditures, which are at or near maintenance spending levels. Many service providers have embraced a philosophy of "Service Innovation," whereby they can enable top line growth through new optical broadband services that meet enterprise requirements for reliable, high-bandwidth connectivity while leveraging their existing business and operational methods.

The Service Innovation mindset incorporates immediate "success-based" optical broadband service builds and provides an evolutionary path to a consistent service delivery model for all optical broadband services by way of a shared infrastructure. Service Innovation also assures service acceleration by embedding service awareness in the delivery platforms themselves and providing a suite of provisioning, test, and performance management capabilities.

The crux the Service Innovation construct is the ability to ensure optimal network utilization and the simplification of new and existing services' delivery through service efficiency. Service efficiency is enabled by new adaptation techniques and data transport standards, including Resilient Packet Ring (RPR--IEEE 802.17), Generic Framing Procedure (GFP--ITU-T G.7041), Virtual Concatenation (VCAT--ITU-T G.707), and Link Capacity Adjustment Scheme (LCAS--ITU-T G.7xxx).

GFP is an adaptation technique that enables the efficient mapping of established data protocols such as Ethernet, Fibre Channel, ESCON, and FICON to the underlying SONET/SDH transport infrastructure. VCAT is a technique for producing "right-sized" pipes over an arbitrary SONET/SDH network. Both of these techniques result in a significant increase in bandwidth efficiencies and lower service delivery costs. Point-to-point broadband connectivity services that consume a predictable amount of bandwidth can be accommodated efficiently using GFP with VCAT/LCAS, which is especially appealing for service providers looking to offer Ethernet private line or storage connectivity services over SONET/SDH.

The aforementioned Layer 1 protocol elements add considerable flexibility and efficiency that can be further enhanced by the addition of Layer 2 capabilities. RPR, for example, provides Layer 2 support for packet-oriented, connectionless service to the SONET/SDH ring. RPR permits a new service paradigm by enabling the add/drop/pass-thru of traffic at the packet level, not just the TDM channel level, allowing the ring bandwidth to be shared without concern for transport of individual data streams.

RPR makes efficient use of ring bandwidth in several ways. First, it enables traffic aggregation onto the backbone by multiplexing bursty data streams onto the ring. Second, RPR employs a Layer 2 technique for protecting traffic, known as resilience, which eliminates the need to reserve half the ring bandwidth for protection. Additionally, RPR traffic consumes bandwidth only on those segments of the ring between the data source and destination--a property known as spatial reuse--which can effectively multiply the capacity of the ring.

Service providers looking to offer broadband connectivity services that are less-predictable, bursty, or sub-rate may employ RPR to combine multiple data streams (from one or more customers) and, in turn, benefit from a new level of network efficiency made possible by its connectionless nature. In the same way, when more that two or three points are to be interconnected in true multipoint-to-multipoint fashion, RPR's spatial reuse capability significantly increases the utilization of the network.


Kevin Drury is senior marketing manager, Optical Networks, at Nortel Networks (Ottawa, Ontario).

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