According to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, Life is Flux, constantly challenging us to embrace change and disruption. It pushes us to adapt and thrive, not just survive.

When you look at how technologies are increasingly becoming an integral part of both our personal and professional lives, it’s easy to witness the velocity that this flux is taking.

Less than ten years ago, it was unimaginable to think about people asking a personal digital assistant supported by artificial intelligence to unlock doors or turn on the lights. It was hard to believe that large corporations would move most of their strategic and confidential information out of their physical premises and into another company’s infrastructure, referred to now as the cloud. Calling your bank means talking to a machine, which drastically reduces costs for financial institutions and improves the customer quality of experience by reducing waiting times.

With the added disruption of such technologies like augmented/virtual reality, the Internet of Things, and biotechnology, it’s no wonder why our daily lives are in a constant state of flux.

“The only thing that is constant is change.”- Heraclitus

It’s not about what you see, it’s about what you don’t see

Technologies, such as those mentioned above, are just the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface, there’s a group of enabling technologies that form the roots of digital transformation. Data is the raw material but it’s how we now store, process, and connect this data that are the real enablers.

The evolution of data center infrastructure becoming increasingly distributed, coupled with the advent of Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC), is creating the building blocks of how we’ll process and store information to support new and emerging applications.

Connectivity is like air. Imperceptible, yet essential.

On the connectivity side, changes are even more drastic. 5G will radically change the foundation of mobile connectivity and will be dependent upon significant changes to both the wireless and wireline network infrastructure that enables the end-to-end 5G service path.

Networks are being simplified whereby their operators are seeking ways to converge the entire infrastructure by providing a higher level of integration and utilization. Coherent pluggable optics simplify network designs by reducing the overall number of network elements resulting in a reduction of power, space, cost, and complexity. The disaggregation of the control plane from the data plane via Software-Defined Networks (SDN), coupled Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), are also top of mind for most operators wanting a more flexible network that can adapt.

Finally, new applications and use cases will require tight integration between data centers and networks domains, which places additional strain on service providers innovation capacity. Network automation and service orchestration enable new levels of operational efficiency and agility that operation teams need to maintain pace with constant change associated with customer requirements. Machine learning, artificial intelligence, and closed-loop automation are fundamental parts of a network’s ability to adapt in a multi-domain environment.

IP is in the core of any digital transformation and must also evolve.

Compared to the technologies I’ve talked about in this blog thus far, Internet Protocol (IP) is not new. It certainly has evolved a lot since the early Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) days, but not radically.

Traditional IP implementations are very hardware-centric, with innovation delivered by a handful of vendors who focus primarily on increasing speed, feeds, and the number of hardware nodes. Supporting new applications meant adding more and more protocols to the router making the network increasingly complex, as the protocol stack got heavier and more complex to manage.

However, none of these IP network design characteristics align with new application requirements. Simplicity, scalability, cost-efficiency, and disaggregation are paramount to support the types of applications business are now consuming meaning the IP networks themselves must also evolve to support the digital transformation.

Evolutionize IP networks, from access to metro

Digital transformation will not only make IP traffic grow significantly in the coming years, it will also require a new and different level of performance as IP capabilities are pushed closer to the network edge to optimizing traffic patterns and reduce latency.

The traditional IP approach of continually adding more and increasingly complex hardware-based router designs simply make IP networks, from access to metro, unnecessarily costly and complex.

There must be a better way!

IP networks must evolve to adapt to new use cases and ever-changing business demands. Which is why Ciena has introduced the Adaptive IPTM approach, where infrastructure is programmable, disaggregated, and streamlined.

It leverages streaming telemetry to enable real-time monitoring of the network and services provided. It’s based on open protocols, like NETCONF/YANG, IS-IS, OSPF, and BGP, while supporting new IP implementations, such as Segment Routing. Adaptive IP is composed of purpose-built packet platforms based on merchant silicon and enhanced with hardware-assisted capabilities. Massive scalability is enabled via coherent pluggable optics for expanded capacity and reach to address a myriad of applications. Ciena’s Manage, Control, and Plan (MCP) is a microservice-based domain controlled specifically created to support multi-layer Ciena implementations.

The evolution of IP networks must include a route optimization and assurance, which is provided by Ciena’s Blue Planet ROA that maps the end-to-end IP network topology, from core to edge, to provide constraint-based path computation while monitoring networks events and performance in a multi-vendor environment. ROA ensures that available network assets are highly optimized.

Ciena’s Blue Planet Multi-Domain Service Orchestration (MDSO) provides an end-to-end service framework that supports a multi-vendor, multi-layer, and multi-domain environment. It enables automation driven by intent-based policies to provide the agility required by new applications.

Adaptive Network diagram

The “New IP” network must offer a highly scalable and cost-efficient platform supporting greater network capacity and adaptability while cost-effectively expanding IP capabilities to the network edge.

Operations must be simplified by abstracting overall complexity via SDN design concepts to unleash software-driven network optimization driven by real-time visibility into the network that simplifies management and troubleshooting. Optimized traffic engineering, which provides improved asset utilization for reduced costs, is provided by an intelligent Path Computation Engine (PCE). Future-proofing the network is achieved through an open and disaggregated network design approach via the separation of the data plane and control plane. This spurs cloud-like innovation cycles while supporting a multi-vendor environment for best-in-breed network designs.

Ciena’s Adaptive IP is the ideal approach to implement, expand, or modernize IP networks, from access to metro, to best support existing, new, and emerging applications and use-cases.

Heraclitus was right when he said, “life is flux”, and given how ubiquitous connectivity has become as an integral part of our daily lives, the network must also be in flux. Adaptive IP allows operators to both address and leverage this flux to achieve a competitive advantage.