In an increasingly mobile world, network providers are grappling with a data explosion. Millions of mobile users are running video and other applications that require significant bandwidth.

At the same time, those providers are saddled with legacy systems and protocols that leave them bloated and slow. Even to add simple services, they have to contend with hundreds of manual processes for set up, revisions, and tear down of even the simplest services.

With challenges like that, anticipating and responding to dynamic traffic levels and service requests is nearly impossible. These legacy networks simply cannot handle the growing and unpredictable demands on providers, and the problem is only going to worsen.

The situation is compounded by the ongoing pressure on the core business of network providers. Even as consumers and enterprises demand more from providers, they’re rarely willing to pay more. So network providers are always looking to lower their cost structures as they accelerate time to revenue and respond quickly to changing market conditions. In short, providers need their networks to help them achieve better business outcomes.

Understanding that you still need optical hardware to put photons on the fiber, a programmable infrastructure is a unique combination of optical and packet hardware, along with virtual instances. This unique arrangement provides a dynamic, highly instrumented network that has the ability to export real-time network performance data and scale as needed to meet the demands of applications. As a result, it can help providers handle the demands of today’s marketplace.

A programmable infrastructure enables providers to change and reconfigure the network on the fly. Providers can react quickly to changing customer bandwidth requirements in a couple of areas.

First, they can now easily use variable bit-rate optics to tune the network to different capacities, depending on the needs of the customer and the path the data is taking.

Programmable infrastructure is a highly instrumented packet and optical infrastructure that securely manages a dynamic pool of virtual and physical resources, accessed and configured via common, open interfaces.

Second, software can dynamically reroute wavelengths across different paths, depending on conditions of the network and the requirements of the data in transit.

For example, an optical network might carry traffic over 200G wavelengths. If an enterprise needs to increase that to 250G wavelengths, in the present mode of operation, you might be limited by the hardware to 200G at either end. An upgrade would take time, money, and considerable resources. If it’s temporary business demand causing the need, it might not be worth the cost, but the business would be slowed because of the inadequate connectivity. Programmable infrastructure eliminates those issues, enabling you to flexibly match network bandwidth to service requirements in real time, without the need to add more hardware.

How Ciena helps

As a component of its Adaptive Network vision, Ciena provides the following solutions that can help a network provider achieve a more programmable infrastructure:

  • WaveLogic Ai coherent optics, which enable tunable capacity—from 100G to 400G—in granular 50G steps
  • WaveLogic Photonics, which is a reconfigurable, flexible grid photonic layer that enables dynamic rerouting of wavelengths across the network
  • 6500 and Waveserver® platforms, which feature open APIs and modern data models, such as REST and gRPC, for real-time network telemetry and measurement, as well as provisioning at scale
  • Packet Networking products, which are a broad set of open, purpose-built platforms, including the 3000 family of service delivery switches, the 5000 family of service aggregation switches, and the 8700 Packetwave® Platform

A programmable infrastructure is one element in Ciena’s vison of the Adaptive Network. The Adaptive Network utilizes automation guided by intent-based policies to self-monitor, self-configure, self-heal, and self-optimize by constantly assessing network status.

In addition to a programmable infrastructure, the Adaptive Network also includes:

  • Software Control and Automation, which is composed of Multi-Domain Service Orchestration (MDSO) and centralized, software-defined control of individual domains
  • Analytics and Intelligence, which collects network performance data and analyzes it using machine learning. It also provides the ability to more accurately predict potential network problems and anticipate trends

Ciena has worked with more than 1,300 customers around the globe—including 80 percent of the world’s largest service providers and Fortune 2000 enterprises Internet content providers, government, and other private network providers—over its 25-year history. As a strategic partner for its customers, Ciena has developed its vision of the Adaptive Network based on an intimate understanding of customer needs.