Cisco tackles 100-Gbps IP/optical convergence with nLight and elastic core

Cisco has unveiled a pair of new technologies aimed at converging the IP and optical layers and enabling flexible provision of links carrying data rates of 100 Gbps and above. The new “elastic core architecture” enables multilayer service provisioning, while nLight technology integrates 100-Gbps optical interfaces into the Carrier Routing System (CRS). The advances are part of Cisco’s Open Network Environment (ONE) initiative.

Cisco has unveiled a pair of new technologies aimed at converging the IP and optical layers and enabling flexible provision of links carrying data rates of 100 Gbps and above. The new “elastic core architecture” enables multilayer service provisioning, while nLight technology integrates 100-Gbps optical interfaces into the Carrier Routing System (CRS). The advances are part of Cisco’s Open Network Environment (ONE) initiative.

Carriers have expressed an interest in converging the IP and optical layers, particularly in the long haul, to enable efficient mesh networking. Several systems providers have offered various takes on how this might be accomplished. Companies with a router heritage such as Cisco and Juniper suggesting the routers should control setup and other aspects of configuring optical links, while suppliers that are more optically focused have suggested that optical transport equipment should retain this responsibility.

Today’s release brings Cisco’s approach from theory to commercialization. With the help of the nLight capabilities, the elastic core approach within an IP over DWDM (IPoDWDM) architecture will provide a variety of benefits, the company asserts:

  • Elastic scale: The Cisco CRS platform now has a more streamlined multi-chassis operational capabilities. With 400 Gbps per-slot, the architecture enables economical capacity scaling in-service.
  • Elastic transport: The multi-layer management capabilities can enable carriers to reduce provisioning times “from months to minutes,” Cisco asserts, saying the result is savings as high as 36% on the total cost of ownership (TCO).
  • Elastic services: Cisco CRS simultaneously supports transit label-switching (LSR) and IP services in a single system, which the company says means as much as 42% savings inTCO versus conventional technologies.

Meanwhile, nLight adds coherent 100-Gbps transport capabilities over 3,000 km without regeneration. The new capabilities likely are based on technology Cisco acquired when it bought CoreOptics.

Cisco says that CESNET, the national research and education network of the Czech Republic, is deploying the new nLight capabilities.

“CESNET is very happy to be the first customer to deploy Cisco’s nLight silicon, enabling 100 Gbps IPoDWDM in a production network,“ said Jan Gruntorád, managing director and member of the board of directors, CESNET, via a Cisco press release. "IPoDWDM is a very innovative technology that will serve as the foundation for our high-speed data services, while helping us reduce network costs and improve network operations. The Cisco CRS provides an intelligent core solution with the ability to scale up to 400 Gbps per slot, which will meet our service demands well into the future. The CRS enables reliable and continuous operation, as well as a very smooth migration path from the CRS-1 to the CRS-3 platform.“

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