Communications service providers (CSPs) today share a nearly  universal goal – drive down network costs and increase profitability. This goal  boils down to three basic elements:

  1. provide a superior, on-demand customer experience to retain customers,
  2. transport more services and  capacity across the network with less hardware and/or lower cost (reduce  CAPEX), and
  3. spend less time and cost in  operating the network (reduce OPEX).

It’s these basic elements that are driving operators to  invest in SDN architectures and strategically use software to automate processes  and accelerate time to revenue. They are simplifying the network by collapsing  layers and replacing hardware with software functions.

For the network layer that cannot be virtualized – the  optical network, that converts trillions of bits of information per second into  light over a single strand of fiber – they are moving towards next generation  coherent technologies to drive down capital expenses.

There is one point, however, that is often overlooked in  transformation projects.  New coherent  technology innovations are now making it possible to challenge several  longstanding assumptions associated with how optical networks are built, to  eliminate old processes and bring forth new operational practices.  These “new laws” of optical networks enable operators  to radically reduce processes and time involved with managing the network, and  achieve greater profitability.

Old Practice #1:  The need to design the network using  conservative engineering assumptions

Limited visibility into fiber characterization data and  network performance has always meant that conservative engineering assumptions  are made, resulting in a network with excess SNR (signal-to-noise ratio) margin  that operates at sub-optimal capacity. New technology innovations are making it  possible to change the status quo. By deploying instrumented hardware with  real-time monitoring and reporting, and accessing this information with high  performance telemetry using network management and planning tools, CSPs can  operate their existing network assets more efficiently, and avoid premature  overbuilds.

Old Practice #2:  Design and build the “one-size-fits-all” static network

Today, optical networks are planned using predicted  worst-case capacity demands for full-fill, end of life conditions, and are  built assuming a static mode of operation where the capacity rate of each  wavelength is fixed. But why manage optical networks in static mode when  capacity depends on available system margin – a fluid variable over the life of  the network? Using configurable variable bit-rate coherent optics combined with  real-time link engineering tools, CSPs can safely exploit excess margin to  extract more value from existing assets. Benefits include greater capacity  without the need to deploy new hardware and enhanced survivability through the  ability to restore WDM signals over longer distances.

Old Practice #3:  Pre-deploy hardware to handle unpredictable traffic demands and SLA guarantees

Although we live in an on-demand world, there is nothing “on-demand” with  optical networks today. Because of the long delays associated with field visits  and equipment installation, CSPs today must pre-deploy equipment if there is a  possibility of unplanned A-Z demands. The same holds true for guaranteeing  SLAs, such as Mean-Time-To-Repair (MTTR) commitments.  Because of the unknown duration involved with  troubleshooting and failure replacement procedures, extra hardware is installed  to ensure services can be protected and MTTR commitments can be met.

In both cases, capital assets are predominantly sitting idle in the  network and not contributing to revenue.    With a software-defined optical network equipped with configurable  coherent optics, CSPs can now evolve to a more efficient operating model.  Instead of deploying more hardware, they can dynamically allocate capacity as  needed to meet a specific business objectives using existing deployed assets.

The new laws of tomorrow’s  network

Imagine the network of tomorrow free from the shackles of these  restrictive practices.  In addition to a  simpler network with fewer layers and more automated multi-vendor, multi-domain  service orchestration, operators can increase efficiencies with the network’s  optical foundation to further accelerate service delivery and provide a greater impact to the bottom line.

Using configurable coherent optics along with SDN applications, operators  can:

  • Eliminate spreadsheets and manual processes, and  instead service more customer demands;
  • Use  predictive analytics and data-driven insights to replace aging hardware and  avoid service impacts;
  • Use  machine learning to understand what the expected end-of-life wavelength fill  will be for specific paths and increase capacity rates of deployed coherent  optics to better monetize their assets;
  • Better  compete and accommodate unexpected service demands in minutes without the need  for field visits.

We are entering a new world, with  new rules. This is the world that Ciena’s Liquid Spectrum has been designed for.

Liquid Spectrum empowers a  programmable and software-defined optical network that is a more strategic  contributor towards greater profitability. Liquid Spectrum dramatically  simplifies how optical networks are designed, built, and operated, enabling  systems that are both scalable to meet today’s significant bandwidth demands,  as well as open and programmable to deliver the exact service performance  required at any point in time.

Liquid Spectrum enables successful network transformation for the on-demand world.

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