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The Real (Networking) Stars of Los Angeles

Cisco 100 Gigabit  Ethernet @ OFC/NFOEC 2011Early this month the stars in Los Angeles weren’t walking the Red Carpet, nor Tweeting about #winning, nor trashing their dressing room. Instead they were on the blue carpet of the Los Angeles Convention Center at the OFC/NFOEC 2011 show. A few themes clearly stood out regarding the challenges faced by network operators trying to address the bandwidth growth driven by video and collaboration technologies:

  1. Investment Protection: The relentless need to optimize infrastructure investments
  2. MPLS-TP:  Deployment of packet-based technologies for future transport networks
  3. Interoperability: Why scaling to 100 Gig in an interoperable manner will be critical
  4. Optical Component Innovation: How coherent optical technology, flexible spectrum and component modules will be leveraged in future optical networks

Investment Protection: As providers continue to expand their converged backbone transport networks, they are carefully scrutinizing expenses. Bandwidth growth is driving the expansion and various technology approaches are being discussed to tackle it: efficient wavelength optimization, optical switching, optical bypass, packet switching, packet bypass, label switching and others. Some implementations focus on creating new platforms for each technology function. An ideal approach conserves existing investments without compromising performance. For example, label switching is a function that is fundamental to the core and is an easy, incremental deployment within established platforms. Adding this capability to established platforms makes best use of existing infrastructure and avoids new qualification cycles.

MPLS-TP:  Today MPLS is evolving the transport architecture with MPLS-TP and recently implemented in Cisco’s new Carrier Packet Transport (CPT) platform. The CPT attracted the interest of many customers, and we heard a number of positive comments at the event:

  • The ability to do Carrier Ethernet and MPLS-TP in one machine is important
  • CPT satellite architecture is unique and provides great density
  • Smallest ROADM in the industry

Interoperability: Interoperability is another challenge facing providers. Several vendors have shown] 100 Gig at the transport layer interconnecting packet platforms to the DWDM layer. A true end-user test is comprised of one vendor’s 100 Gig packet interfaces interoperating with third-party 100 Gig packet interfaces. This is possible when the implementation fully complies with the IEEE 802.3BA standard. Cisco proved this in the 100 Gigabit  Ethernet booth showing the CRS-3 platform interoperating with packet interfaces on third-party equipment.

Optical Component Innovation: Existing ROADMs have fixed channel spacing (50GHz or 100GHz) that make it complex for bit rates exceeding 100Gbps. However, new “Flex Spectrum” technology allows for adjustable DWDM channel sizes which can accommodate 400Gbps and 1Tbps wavelengths. Several component vendors discussed this technology  at the show.  With the acquisition of CoreOptics, Cisco is committed to delivering innovative, integrated solutions across the packet-transport domain that benefit from our expertise in sophisticated modulation formats, advanced DSP and coherent technologies.

If you didn’t make it to OFC/NFOEC we’re bringing the knowledge to you. Check out the upcoming Service Provider workshop on the Cisco Knowledge Network: “Converged Transport Architectures” on Tuesday April 5, 2011  Rob Hillman and Ramesh Pillutla of the Optical Transport Business Unit will discuss Cisco’s vision for a converged optical network that can  natively support any mix of both TDM and packet capabilities.

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