Ciena announced a set of forthcoming software tools and controls that will give customers of its optical networking gear significantly more flexibility to respond to surges and ebbs in network traffic with the equipment they have deployed. The company is calling the approach Liquid Spectrum.
Ciena is responding to the way running a network is changing, Vice President, Global Marketing Joe Cumello explained to SDxCentral. Network operators are more likely to experience massive but temporary surges in demand. He invoked the increasingly common experience of enormous spikes in network usage in and around sports venues on game days.
You can look at a team’s schedule, but the number of unpredictable surges in network demand is also increasing, with more people consuming video, more people creating and sharing video, more cloud traffic, and more traffic from the Internet of Things (IoT).
In the past, the response to increased demand would often be overbuilding. There are problems with overbuilding, however. An overbuild might take months, leaving unaddressed any spike that occurs before project completion. And even if the network operator’s schedule allows for it, an overbuild will almost always be an inefficient use of capex.
The solution is to build flexibility into the existing network, so that inherent operating margin can be exploited, with the process controlled through software applications.
Ciena has been upgrading its network technology to have more inherent flexibility. The company introduced WaveLogic Ai, the latest version of its networking technology, in October. It is due to hit the market in the second quarter.
WaveLogic Ai makes each wavelength tunable from 100 Gb/s to 400 Gb/s, in 50 Gb/s increments, Helen Xenos, director of product marketing at Ciena, told SDxCentral.
In order to control the margin inherent in a network, a network operator must first know precisely what the margin is. To that end, Ciena has been heavily instrumenting its product portfolio for some time. That of course includes WaveLogic Ai.
Taking full advantage of the instrumentation deployed to characterize network conditions requires advanced tools to analyze and manage those conditions. Ciena covered that base with its recent announcement that it is adding analytics to its Blue Planet portfolio. The company expects to begin commercially marketing that capability also in the second quarter.
With all that now in place, Ciena announced four software applications that will be the final components required to make its Liquid Spectrum concept a commercial reality. The apps will be available by the end of the year.
The software applications are:
- Performance Meter, which helps operators proactively ensure optimal system performance by providing access, for the first time, to real-time, accurate planning data for both the existing hardware and new planned services.
- Bandwidth Optimizer, which uses customer-defined service policies and suggests the ideal capacity, hardware configuration, and spectral placement for any channel, across any network path.
- Liquid Restoration, which increases service availability with flexible adjustment of deployed coherent optical capacity as needed to route affected services across any available path in the network.
- Wave-Line Synchronizer, which accelerates service provisioning, reduces manual provisioning steps, and eliminates associated human errors across multi-vendor optical deployments.
Liquid Spectrum uses application program interfaces (APIs) and standard interfaces to support operators’ requirements for an accessible, open architecture. “If you want to run someone else’s line systems with our optics, you can do it,” Xenos said.