Data demand in metro networks across Asia Pacific is growing significantly faster than traditional network cost models can support. This is being fueled by three key market shifts: 

  • Rich media services – Increased availability and utilization of rich media applications such as high-resolution video/audio streaming services, Corporate video conferencing, and the explosive mobile data consumption from an increasingly work-anywhere-anytime culture
  • Cloud applications and services – Increased utilization of cloud-based applications across both business and consumer applications, as well as the exponential increase in e-commerce and banking traffic, and
  • The Internet of things (IoT) – Internet connected devices used in smart cities, enterprise IoT services (such as with AWS’ Greengrass) and consumer IoT such as smart watches. And very soon the impending requirements from network connected smart/self-driving vehicles, and AR/VR applications and services.

Add to that, 5G for the masses is imminent in Asia Pacific, and it isn’t just about bandwidth, it is about enabling a new wave of media rich, latency sensitive applications and the true enablement of machine-to-machine applications that will change how we interact with the world around us. 

This shift is requiring service providers to significantly upscale network capacity, especially in the access and aggregation layers to ensure optimum customer experience.

However, continuing to do so with traditional network architectural approaches commonly used today will force service providers to choose between decreasing margins or customer churn:

  • Investing to keep up with your customer’s demands using traditional approaches will drastically increase the total cost of ownership affecting margins
  • Not investing will affect customer quality of experience leading into churn

To solve this dilemma, a new network architecture is needed, one with five essential elements outlined below:

1) Future networks should be highly scalable and programmable – Moore’s Law not only applies in the compute space but with the advent of coherent optics, has allowed data transmission rates to scale exponentially while reducing costs. Coupled with open interfaces for telemetry and software-configurability, this programmable scalability will be the bedrock of all future infrastructure. In fact, the technology already exists, today. 

2) Future networks should be disaggregated & universal – Traditional approaches of building networks with monolithic platforms and imbedded control-planes are fast disappearing. Replaced with modern architectures of discrete intelligent software-automated layer and plug & play network infrastructure elements that decouple transport, from service functionality which can be easily scaled through virtualization. In effect, building service provider networks the way data centers have been built in recent years. This means you need less processing power and storage on individual network devices, helping to reduce the overall network footprint, real-estate costs, power and cooling costs, maintenance and support costs, to name a few.

With such a programmable, disaggregated, and virtualized network, it becomes possible to support any new service types as needed, as opposed to traditional approaches of building “siloed” networks for different functions. This means it’s possible to deliver a wide range of services, including business Ethernet services, mobile backhaul services, cloud connectivity, and residential broadband services, all over the same cost-effective network, and on-demand.

3) Future networks will be space and power efficient – Legacy network infrastructure typically requires additional hardware to facilitate new capacity and support new services. The inevitable outcome is sprawling infrastructure, often legacy IP/MPLS router infrastructure, that takes up more space in data centers and has higher power and cooling, maintenance support and other requirements – leading to high OPEX. For future networks, with disaggregation comes the ability to be much more efficient, with traffic being aggregated by a far smaller number of highly scalable platforms, and higher-layer services getting virtualized on compute as much as possible for added economies of scale.

4) Future networks should be automated & adaptive; self-aware and self-healing – Provisioning and other operations tasks are extremely resource intensive, especially in multi-vendor environments. With provisioning decisions touching a number of teams internally, provisioning, routing and bringing new services to market can take up to two years, even if the required capacity already exists. Future networks will be far more responsive, using intelligent automation to digitally transform key components and business processes. Additionally, with a software-defined intelligent automation layer, future networks will be self-aware and adaptive, allowing them to predict traffic bottlenecks and other issues and act to ensure that customer-facing services are never compromised.

5) Future networks will be open and simple to manage – Networks can be extremely expensive and time consuming to manage and support, requiring multiple systems to manage multi-vendor technologies and multiple custom interfaces to link network equipment into northbound systems, including the OSS. Future networks will support management of multiple network domains and multi-vendor equipment from a single, intuitive interface, with open programmable interfaces, for simple extension by the service provider, without proprietary software lock-ins.

Are you ready? 

Wherever you are in your network journey, moving towards Ciena’s future network vision can help you scale bandwidth and services on demand, improve operating efficiency, and deliver even more value for your customers. Find out how at