Analyst says optical networks will soon embrace virtualization

Infonetics Research examines how integrated OTN switching is bringing the popular concept of data center virtualization to optical transport networking.

Jul 16th, 2012

A new white paper published by Infonetics Research examines how integrated OTN switching is bringing the popular concept of data center virtualization to optical transport networking. Entitled Integrated OTN Switching Virtualizes Optical Networks, the free white paper outlines the economic and operational benefits of pervasive OTN switching as they relate to network virtualization, and explores alternative optical transport architectures.

“The ‘optical reboot’ that we’ve been predicting is here,” comments Andrew Schmitt, principal analyst for optical at Infonetics Research and author of the white paper. “All the low-hanging fruit has been picked from existing 10-Gbps networks, and carriers view the transition to 100-Gbps as a once-in-a-decade chance to reboot their core and regional network architectures. They’re seizing the opportunity and introducing meshed networks that employ integrated OTN switching.”

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Key points of the white paper include the following:

-- Virtualization, i.e. the process of abstracting a pool of common resources for use by multiple services, has revolutionized computing efficiency in data centers and is now being extended to optical transport networks.

-- Integrated OTN switching converges optical transport and OTN switching functionality into a single network element, increasing efficiency and enabling virtualized optical networking. This method provides efficiencies over typical OTN muxponders, which must be manually provisioned and are subject to inefficient wavelength utilization and scalability issues.

-- The benefits of integrated OTN switching include efficient capacity utilization, quick service turn-up, policy-based provisioning, and rapid failure restoration.

Most carriers want OTN switching, contends the paper. Case in point: Infonetics’ April 2012 OTN Deployment Strategies: Global Service Provider Survey found that 76% of survey respondents plan to deploy or have already deployed OTN switching, and these respondents represent 90% of respondent capex, indicating that larger carriers are embracing OTN switching.

Infonetics adds that, based on its conversations with service providers, architectural approaches that advocate pure MPLS or “OTN+MPLS” switching have had little traction to date.

“Systems that combine WDM optics and OTN switching are changing long-held assumptions in favor of integration," concludes Infonetics' Schmitt. "Our discussions with service providers indicate most plan to deploy OTN switching, with the goal of providing an optimal foundation for virtualized transport networks with the lowest forward TCO.”


Download the free white paper here.

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