For today’s networks, success depends on being able to deliver huge traffic volumes from end-users to offices, branches, the Internet, and data centers cost-effectively. Not only that, but managing the shift from 1G services to 10G and 100G services requires major capacity increases.

When fully integrated with scalable optical network infrastructure, Ethernet connectivity services can help keep pace with bandwidth demands cost-effectively. However, Ethernet services (Layer 2 services) must be able to deliver traffic from both common business Ethernet services (such as E-LINE, E-LAN, E-TREE, and E-ACCESS), as well as from common IP (Layer 3) services, including IP-VPN services and, increasingly, SD-WAN services.

To achieve this, Ethernet infrastructure must have built-in IP capabilities that support the convergence of multiple service and traffic types on the same cost-effective infrastructure. These capabilities define ‘IP and Ethernet aggregation.’ 

The pros and cons of traditional Ethernet aggregation
Ethernet usually supports a ‘static’ traffic routing approach. The benefit is that Ethernet networks are typically simple to deploy, operate, and support. They are also compact and efficient, and need fewer skilled resources to run and maintain.

Despite these key benefits, static routing across Ethernet networks requires multiple provisioning steps to deliver an end-to-end service from the access layer into the IP core.

The pros and cons of IP aggregation
IP aggregation networks typically support ‘dynamic’ traffic routing. This supports seamless, end-to-end provisioning for services being delivered over the network, reducing costly manual interventions and speeding up time to market for new services.

While these benefits are compelling, dynamic routing requires complex IP (Layer 3) router infrastructure, which is costly to buy, install, and support, requiring specialist skills that come at a premium. IP routers also provide built-in IP protocols and capabilities that go far beyond the small subset most networks need. This unused functionality drives up CAPEX for IP network equipment, negatively impacting the bottom line.

The benefits of IP and Ethernet aggregation
The latest generation of aggregation solutions are starting to converge Ethernet and IP capabilities to aggregate traffic from multiple services more efficiently. This is achieved with Ethernet-capable equipment that also incorporates the IP protocols needed to support the full range of Layer 3 services, and deliver traffic seamlessly back into the IP/MPLS core network.

The future of IP and Ethernet aggregation
The evolution of IP and Ethernet aggregation solutions will be based in openness, disaggregation, and orchestration, allowing network complexity to be abstracted to a Software-Defined Networking (SDN) layer and keeping the subsets of IP protocols into the platforms leaner. This approach makes the network scalable, much more cost-effective, and future-proof.

A good example is a technology called segment routing, which uses specific instructions to forward ‘packets’ of data between nodes over the shortest available route. With segment routing, the network no longer needs to maintain specific protocols for specific applications, allowing the convergence of multiple services on one single network.

Abstracting routing control in an IP and Ethernet aggregation network also introduces more sophisticated network analytics across the whole network, supporting better routing decisions based on real-time status reports. Centralized routing control also enables the ability to take advantage of cloud computing economics while hugely reducing the need for complex and costly processing capabilities on every routing node.

A further benefit of converged IP and Ethernet aggregation networks that abstract routing control into the orchestration layer is that operators can deploy only the small subset of routing protocols they actually need to support their chosen services. This means the required processing power for each node is dramatically reduced, allowing operators to meet their needs with merchant silicon rather than the complex, costly ASICs typically used in IP routers today.

Converged IP and Ethernet aggregation also benefits from inbuilt optical scalability on demand. By taking advantage of seamless integration with the optical transport layer, 1G and 10G links can be upgraded to 100G, 200G, and 400G connections in minutes or hours, rather than days or months.

The ability to scale the aggregation network programmatically means no additional hardware is required to ramp up available capacity or to deploy new services. This can help reduce real estate, power, cooling, support, and other costs associated with proliferating IP infrastructure. 

Discover Adaptive IP™
Ciena’s IP and Ethernet aggregation solutions help increase service velocity while reducing end-to-end networking footprint and costs. Look to packet networking from Ciena to:

  • Transform networks to better compete against traditional and non-traditional competitors while lowering ongoing total cost of network ownership to counteract declining margins
  • Successfully target 4G/5G, TDM/L2/L3/VNF Business Services, and Fiber Deep opportunities in the access/aggregation/metro network via simpler, cost-effective, purpose-built packet solutions
  • Implement networks that can readily adapt to change to future-proof businesses via greater automation, intent-based control, and self-optimization to capitalize on new business opportunities