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The Programmable Network: IP and Optical Convergence

Someday soon, personal sensors, wearable gadgets, and embedded devices and services may make today’s PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones look quaint by comparison. But as the Internet of Everything­ (IoE) ─ with its diverse array of devices accessing a plethora of existing and new services ─ continues to rapidly evolve, user friendly interfaces mask growing complexity within networks. An article on today’s digital designers in the September 2013 issue of Wired captured how the focus is now “creating not products or interfaces but experiences, a million invisible transactions” and that “even as our devices have individually gotten simpler, the cumulative complexity of all of them is increasing.”

Which inevitably takes us behind the curtain to the exciting challenge of building hyper-efficient programmable networks using virtualization, the cloud, Software Defined Networking (SDN), and other technologies, architectures, and standards.

So far, this blog series on The Programmable Network has described various new and exciting capabilities leading to greater efficiencies and cost benefits. We’ve shared with you how you can now:

  • Visualize and control traffic using path computation via a network controller
  • Monitor and optimize traffic flows across network connections
  • Order services through an easy-to-use online portal which then launches automated service creation tasks

These capabilities are all available today as part of the Cisco Open Network Environment (Cisco ONE), a customizable software framework of use-case-based modular technologies that service providers can use to harness the full value of their intelligent networks.

IP & Optical Convergence

But our work doesn’t stop there. Programmable networks must also unify network layers so that centralized control can extend end-to-end. And the reality is that service providers have separate, manual service provisioning systems in their IP and optical layers. These separate siloed environments in the routing and dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DMDM) domains feature redundant and expensive operational processes that slow down operator responses to service requests.

The Cisco ONE framework has a better way, a multilayer control plane that allows service providers to integrate independent IP and optical layers for faster service velocity, a lower total cost of ownership (TCO), and more agile adaptation to dynamic cloud topologies.

Cisco nLight

Using the client/server model as a metaphor, picture the DWDM layer as the server and the IP packet layer as the client. Information sharing from the server to the client can include information such as real-time network topology changes, capacity and provisioning data, and protection and restoration details. Today this information is shared manually and in isolation by network managers in the different layers. By unifying and automating this information exchange, service provider networks can operate more efficiently, provide better SLAs, simplify manually performed tasks, and shorten service enablement timeframes. All of the great benefits of convergence!

The multilayer control plane provided by Cisco nLight technology can cut customer provisioning times from weeks or months to minutes. Complex processes can be automated, significantly simplifying and speeding operations. Overall costs can be lowered significantly as the number of interfaces required on routers and the number of required transponders are reduced. A study by ACG Research found that Cisco’s nLight can result in savings of up to 50 percent in TCO based on optimization of optical and packet infrastructure capacity alone.

Cisco nLight enhances the versatility and economics of service resiliency by helping to enable real-time dynamic restoration and optimization functions. With nLight, the IP layer is used for protection while the DMDM layer is used for bandwidth restoration.

See IP and Optical Convergence with Cisco nLight in action in this video.

The Benefits of IP & Optical Convergence

  • Increased service velocity and resiliency
  • Reduced network TCO through lower capital and operational expenditures
  • Increased longevity of DWDM infrastructures

Find out More

How is Cisco ONE creating an entirely new suite of capabilities to power the Internet of Everything and make your networks more agile? Find out today.

Features of Cisco ONE can be deployed incrementally, based on each provider’s or enterprise’s most pressing needs. We encourage you to try Cisco Next Generation Internet architecture solutions for mobile, video, and cloud based services using the Cisco ONE framework today to start reaping the benefits of network and software innovation tomorrow.

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