The content on networks today and changing consumption models are shifting requirements for the network. In today’s constantly evolving, on-demand world, the network still needs to scale for massive capacity growth, but it now also needs to be more agile and programmable to better respond and handle unpredictable traffic requirements associated with cloud connectivity and the proliferation of mobile devices.

To date, optical networks have been built to operate in a static mode of operation, where change in connectivity patterns and new capacity requests translate to new hardware, along with lengthy, manual wavelength planning and deployment cycles.

Liquid Spectrum changes the way optical networks are engineered, operated, and monetized. At its core, Liquid Spectrum is about mining and using available system margin, which is a changing (or ‘liquid’) variable over the life of the network, to gain optical capacity on demand, improved reach for a specific channel, or increased service availability. It is a solution that combines highly instrumented, programmable hardware with advanced software applications to help operators extract the most value from their network, massively scale at lowest cost per bit, and fully monetize their network resources.  The implementation uses APIs and standard interfaces to support customers’ requirements for an accessible, open architecture.

Liquid Spectrum combines variable bit-rate coherent optics, a flexible grid reconfigurable photonic layer, and advanced SDN software applications in an open architecture.

Ciena’s Liquid Spectrum solution

Liquid Spectrum is the cumulative value of a series of next-generation optical and software technologies. Elements include:

  • WaveLogic Ai coherent opticsthat enable tunable capacity, from 100G to 400G, in 50G increments
  • WaveLogic Photonics, a reconfigurable, flexible grid photonic layer that enables dynamic re-routing of wavelengths across the network 
  • Efficient matching of client services to line capacity via flexible platform architectures, such as those found in our 6500 and Waveserver platforms
  • Blue Planet MCPfor unified service and network management, resource control, and planning through a single interface
  • Open APIsand modern data models at both hardware and software layers to allow for better real-time network telemetry and measurement
  • New Liquid Spectrum software applications that allow operators to get more value from their networks. Initial rollout of applications includes:
    • Performance Meter– provides real-time visibility into network performance, eliminates several lengthy manual processes existing in optical networks today, and allows for proactive system optimization
      • Channel Margin Gauge function – gives operators instant visibility into the efficiency of their networks and lets them know if they can run their deployed optics at higher capacities
      • Planning Tool Calibrator function – accesses real-time fiber characterization data that then feeds into planning tools to ensure optimal network designs, without all the manual link engineering and spreadsheet checking processes currently in use today
    • Bandwidth Optimizer– simplifies and accelerates wavelength turn-up through real-time monitoring and automation, providing users with optimal capacity, spectral assignment, and equipment needs based on service requirements
    • Liquid Restoration– increases service availability by leveraging existing system margin and flexibly adjusting transport capacity of deployed coherent optics to recover maximum traffic across any available path
    • Wave-Line Synchronizer– automates wavelength provisioning in multi-vendor networks 

Liquid Spectrum is designed with an open and disaggregated SW architecture to allow operators to reap the benefits of the solution across the spectrum of technology consumption models, from fully integrated solutions to largely disaggregated configurations where customers can select the Ciena functions they most value.

Liquid Spectrum delivers the following benefits:

  • Service agility through a fully programmable and instrumented infrastructure
  • Operational simplicity through sophisticated applications that abstract complexity associated with advanced flexible technologies
  • Choice in architecture implementation through open APIs and a building block approach

Liquid Spectrum provides a blueprint for a software-defined architecture that is more agile, dynamic, software-driven, and open—to tackle the networking challenges of the new on-demand world.