In telecommunications networks, technology is king. Technological innovations embedded within hardware are pushing the boundaries of physical limits. Although state-of-the-art hardware is absolutely necessary to deliver high-bandwidth internet and cloud connectivity to everyone, everywhere, hardware alone cannot efficiently adjust to the dynamic demands of today’s market.

Once viewed as just an ‘enabler’ of hardware, software has come a long way. So has network operations, which is no longer seen as just a means to commission, configure, upgrade, and monitor hardware devices to ensure that the overall network stays up and running. About a decade ago, SDN changed the NMS game by advocating for centralized software control of networks of multi-vendor devices through open, standardized interfaces. Five years later, the cloud and mobility era hit with an ever-increasing demand for higher bandwidth, faster connectivity, and greater scale. The value of software rose once again—this time exponentially.

Now, snazzy user interfaces and automation are not just the purview of commercial B2C applications—telecommunications itself is at the software frontier, with network operators leveraging analytics, Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). The barometer of success is network adaptability—and it can’t be achieved without intelligent network control.

Intelligent network control is software control driven by analytics, enabling automation of multi-layer, multi-vendor network operations throughout the entire network lifecycle—boosting business agility and efficiency.

What is intelligent network control? It’s that sweet spot of marrying software control with advanced analytics to drive closed-loop automation and stay ahead of the market demand curve in the most effective way possible. In a nutshell, intelligent network control is software control driven by analytics, enabling automation of multi-layer, multi-vendor network operations throughout the entire network lifecycle—boosting business agility and efficiency. Such comprehensive control and visibility is of paramount importance today as new technologies, such as 5G and IP/Optical convergence, drive consolidation and transformation of network infrastructure.

Figure 1: Ciena’s MCP Applications & Services deliver intelligent network control, enabling The Adaptive Network

Ciena offers intelligent network control in one integrated suite: Manage, Control and Plan (MCP) Applications. Powerful MCP domain controller capabilities are enhanced with MCP Advanced Apps, delivering unprecedented real-time insights into the state of the end-to-end network through a unified interface. Liquid SpectrumTM Apps provide real-time analytics and visibility across Ciena’s programmable photonic layer. Adaptive IPTM Apps provide multi-vendor IP performance analytics so that operators can quickly identify and resolve performance issues and engineer the network to deliver the highest possible Quality of Experience (QoE).

MCP Applications’ comprehensive visibility across all layers of the network drives informed, optimized operational decisions. Whereas network operations teams were traditionally siloed between L0 optical, L1 Optical Transport Network (OTN), L2 Ethernet, and L3 IP/MPLS, MCP Applications unify network and service management in a single interface for all technology layers in the network. This drives consistency of operational workflows across layers and cross-correlation, enabling more effective utilization of network assets and improved customer service assurance.

Figure 2: MCP’s open APIs facilitate integration and automation with third-party systems

No network is stagnant—there are ongoing optimizations and buildouts in order to adapt to dynamic, increasing customer demands. To simplify capacity management, Ciena’s PlannerPlus network design and planning tool is seamlessly integrated with the MCP domain controller so that completed network designs can be deployed easily through MCP’s auto-assist device commissioning and service provisioning.

But before a new network augmentation can go live, integration testing needs to be done with existing network infrastructure as well as back-end operational support systems. No problem! The Emulation Cloud lab environment provides open Application Programming Interface (API) access to emulated devices, configurations, and services so network operators can easily get a head-start on integration testing to expedite their deployment process (without the lead-time and cost associated with building out their own lab). And when more resources and/or knowledge is needed, Ciena’s MCP Services team of experts can lend a hand to help operationalize MCP Applications and realize the benefits of intelligent network control as soon as possible.

Now that you’re familiar with all that intelligent network control has to offer, are you ready to take your network operations to the next level?