The traditional network architectures for IT, communications, and cloud providers demand extensive hardware – typically IP routers – to open up new capacity on the network, often resulting in sprawling infrastructure and higher equipment, real-estate, power, cooling, and support costs. In addition, as traffic volumes from end-users to offices, branches, and data centres continues to grow these traditional architectures can no longer keep pace. In this set up, commissioning, deploying, configuring, and turning on new equipment to introduce new services for businesses and residential customers can take months, eroding first-mover advantage and extending time to revenues.

To further complicate matters many IT, communications, and cloud providers are still using routers equipped with modular IP stacks to hand off traffic from their Ethernet aggregation networks to their MPLS core networks. This means that every network device has all the features needed to support any IP service – in other words, far more functionality than will ever be needed. This not only increases equipment and operating costs, but also makes the network topology far more complex, increasing management and support challenges and driving up costs.

Finally, many connectivity providers are still building and operating stand-alone networks to support different services, such as business Ethernet, mobile backhaul or residential broadband. This adds to the operational complexity and high operating costs, as there is no effortless way to manage and monitor services across multiple network layers and domains.

Preparing networks for the high-bandwidth future with next-generation IP and Ethernet aggregation

To overcome these challenges, those supplying internet and telecommunications infrastructure and services need converged IP and Ethernet aggregation networks that evolve the IP layer and leverage the advantages of high-bandwidth, flexible Ethernet. Converging disaggregated IP and Ethernet allows the network to scale quickly – on-demand – to support constantly growing traffic volumes. Additionally, network functions need to be abstracted from the boxes to the software-defined networking (SDN) Control Plane to reduce the requirement for complex switching, routing and processing capabilities on individual network devices – which reduces cost and operational complexity.

By adopting an SDN control plane and simplifying network equipment and architectures, the network can also become ‘use case agnostic’. In other words, it becomes possible to retire multiple, application-specific infrastructures and replace them with a single architecture that supports multiple service types, including business Ethernet services, residential broadband, legacy TDM business services, and even mobile backhaul services – all on the same, cost-effective network. New services can also be delivered over the same architecture far more quickly and with less need for costly change management processes.

Another key benefit of next-generation IP and Ethernet aggregation is its ability to integrate seamlessly with advanced orchestration software. This automates key network activities such as resource and service provisioning, allowing IT, communications and cloud providers to bring new, revenue-generating services to market faster, reducing their administrative and operating costs.

Finally, next-generation IP and Ethernet aggregation solutions are able to support the full range of network requirements, whether a connectivity provider needs a new aggregation network in a new geography or has plans to upgrade an ageing SDH or Ethernet network. They also support both single and multi-vendor network scenarios, as well as dynamic and static network topologies.

The key characteristics of leading IP and Ethernet aggregation networks are:

  • Operational simplicity - based on their ability to deliver traffic from end-users to offices, branches, and data centres with fewer network components, making them less expensive to house, run and maintain – and also easier to manage.
  • Service velocity - with centralisation of key network features that support multiple services, zero-touch provisioning, and service automation testing IT, communications and cloud providers can create, configure and provision new services faster - reducing time to market and revenues by orders of magnitude compared to traditional network architectures.
  • Agility - based on the ability to deliver any number of converged services on the same, simple network architecture by decoupling apps from the underlying infrastructure and centralising the network features needed to support differentiated services cost effectively.
  • Scalability - Ethernet equipment can seamlessly integrate with both IP AND the optical transport network. With optical the network can scale programmatically, on-demand to 100G and beyond to stay ahead of future traffic demands.
  • Openness - which allows connectivity providers to automate service provisioning and deploy new services rapidly in multi-vendor network environments. Next-generation IP and Ethernet aggregation solutions also connect easily with third-party technologies via open APIs, allowing operators to integrate and operate virtual network functions (VNFs) from a variety of suppliers – with no risk of vendor lock-in.

Ciena’s Adaptive Network TM vision for IP and Ethernet aggregation

To help carriers overcome the cost and scalability challenges created by legacy IP and Ethernet network architectures, Ciena is re-defining traffic aggregation based on the Adaptive Network vision. This offers programmable scalability on-demand, network intelligence for network automation, and centralised, ‘right-sized’ IP features to support the full range of business and residential services cost effectively on the same, simple network architecture.

Other unique benefits of Ciena’s Adaptive IP TM and Ethernet solutions include:

  • Reduced network TCO - by reducing the power, space, memory and processing capacity required for legacy IP designs.
  • Faster time to market for new services - based on centralisation of key network functions such as traffic engineering and data analytics, along with our multi-vendor zero-touch provisioning capabilities that support rapid service creation and provisioning with no human interventions. Ciena Blue Planet can also be used to adopt a highly efficient DevOps development cycle for new services.
  • Future-proof networking with Adaptive IP - with the ability to ‘de-couple’ applications from the underlying network and centralise IP functions and protocols needed to deploy different service and traffic types on the network. This means that new use cases can be deployed quickly and easily to meet changing user demands, with no downtime to other key services.
  • Simpler, more efficient network management - with Ciena’s Blue Planet Manage, Control and Plan (MCP) software, which supports seamless infrastructure, and service management and monitoring from the optical layer to the Ethernet and IP layers.
  • Constant network uptime and compliance with performance SLAs - based on Ciena’s Operations, Administration and Maintenance (OAM) tools, which provide ongoing monitoring of network and service performance.
  • Enhanced network performance - with real-time network telemetry and network health data used to troubleshoot issues and optimise performance and utilisation.

Maximising network ROI with Ciena Services

Ciena’s portfolio of service offers and solution services can help IT, communications and cloud providers of all sizes to maximise returns on infrastructure investments. Our services, which are delivered by experienced technical specialists, support every aspect of the network lifecycle, from planning and solution design to deployment and ongoing network management. Ciena are particularly experienced in supporting network migration activities – from detailed planning to execution. Our teams can also help connectivity providers develop new revenue-generating services on the network, while also supporting go to market activities and sales enablement programs that maximise commercial success.