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Paying Attention to TCO can save the Government Millions in Transport Costs

December 14, 2011 at 3:32 pm PST

I’ve been thinking a lot about TCO recently and ways we can help the Government maximize the investment of our tax dollars. By chance, I ran across this incredible White Paper written by one of our top Optical Engineers  entitled “Government Transport Networks:  Minimize Lifetime Costs”.

It’s a good read, and if you are a Network Architect making purchasing decisions in this area, I would highly recommend it.  In fact, if you have any further questions on any of the data presented please reach out to me directly and I’ll put you in touch with the author.

This paper makes the case that transport networks represent a significant portion of government IT costs and is often overlooked in terms of TCO.  It guides the reader through the various Network Deployment Models (private, managed private, hybrid) and the benefits  in real dollars by going with one approach over another.

Transport networks affect government operational costs at least as much as campus or data center networks, and carefully selecting the platform can result in significant savings. In summary, a well-planned transport architecture can help agencies avoid the considerable expense of upgrades as they accelerate adoption of business video and virtualization. In contrast, a platform with lower upfront costs may have a shorter lifespan and require IT teams to continually add overlay networks that increase costs and management complexity.

So “caveat emptor” when considering your next network purchase.

To learn more about Cisco transport platforms, visit: http://www.cisco.com/go/optical.

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Transoceanic Fiber Cable: a Luminary Discovery

By Steven Shepard, Contributing Columnist

This story is a bit more technical that what I’ve previously shared. That said, I’ll link to some definitions for you non-technical readers — I promise, this one is going to be worth the extra effort. However, a bit of technology is required in the telling — so please bear with me.

Let’s step back in time. The first transoceanic cables used copper wire as the conductor that carried signals between continents. Unfortunately, the technology at the time was such that the cables were extremely bandwidth-limited and could therefore support a very small number of simultaneous conversations.

Furthermore, the physics of metallic transmission dictated that the transmitted signals would decay over distance, making it necessary to amplify and/or regenerate the transmitted signal periodically. This was costly, and required additional circuitry to filter electromagnetic interference and increase the signal level every few thousand feet.

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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:
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Foundation for Next-Generation Transport: The Cisco Carrier Packet Transport System

SONET and SDH, while well established and highly reliable technologies, were optimized for an era of TDM voice communications - before cloud computing, VoIP, cell phones, mobile tablets, Video CDNs and even the Internet increased network complexity and radically changed traffic patterns. This infrastructure has delivered reliable transport because it is easy to provision, troubleshoot, and provides a high level of resiliency. However, with the increase in IP traffic and changing traffic patterns, a new solution is required: one that provides the ‘trust’ of SONET/SDH with the ‘efficiency’ and ‘agility’ of packet.

Today Cisco is announcing our latest innovation, the Cisco Carrier Packet Transport (CPT) System. Our goal is to enable the transport network in a way that combines the reliability and simplicity of point-and-click provisioning of SONET/SDH along with the efficiency and flexibility of IP/MPLS. 

Service providers generate a lot of revenue from connection-oriented services like leased lines. However the growth of these services from a revenue perspective is slow. New services based on cloud, mobile, and video are IP based and have huge growth potential. Service providers need to address this growing traffic and need to do so profitably. They need to find ways to lower the cost of transport and simultaneously tap into new applications that increase the average revenue per user. The Cisco Carrier Packet Transport System helps them do exactly that!

Of course, new technology can be overwhelming. So, it’s important to deliver all the benefits of packet technology without sacrificing the trust of transport. With the Cisco CPT System, service providers can build a packet transport infrastructure with the same reliability and familiar operational models of SONET/SDH. Standards-based MPLS-TP allows for robust packet connection-oriented control. Cisco’s Premier Integrated Management Experience (PRIME) offers service providers an A-Z point-and-click network management system. Both wavelengths and MPLS-TP label switch paths are provisioned in an easy “point-and-click” fashion autonomously or from a single integrated domain. This integrated solution provides opex savings and eliminates the need for overhaul and extensive employee re-training.

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Packet or Transport? Get Your Questions Ready for October 5th

cisco webcast panel presentersThe OSI stack has long served the telecom industry as a model for engineering since the early 80′s (which IMHO was the best decade for music, but I digress). Nowadays the industry is abuzz with a host of developments in the lower layers of the OSI stack. Technologies like OTN and MPLS-TP are being built to extend transport characteristics in the packet domain. At the same time, bandwidth technologies continue to scale upwards to 100G and beyond. While discussions at layer 8 abound on some of them, the industry is largely converging on a standards-based path for development.

Earlier in May, Cisco hosted the IP NGN Virtual Summit where many of you got a flavor of the Transport Architecture evolution amongst various other topics. Following its success, we decided to expand on Transport Technologies in more detail in an hour-long event. The format is much more interactive, and those of you with burning questions can ask them live to our panel of experts. (Register Here)

The event will be held on Tuesday October 5, 2010 with two broadcasts to suit your schedule (each features the live Q&A):

  • First Broadcast: 0500-0600 PDT (San Francisco), 1200-1300 GMT (London)
  • Second Broadcast: 0900-1000 PDT (San Francisco), 1600-1700 GMT (London)

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