On the heels of a dynamic OFC show, Cisco kept the Optical and Optics momentum going with our 2018 Spring Packet Optical Networking Conference (PONC) in Richardson, Texas last week.

A quick highlight from OFC:  Cisco introduced two new modular platforms to our NCS 1000 series to help providers maximize their fiber investment. Riding momentum from OFC, our Spring PONC event brought together 170 customers, industry analysts and partners. With a clear focus on the struggle to modernize an Enterprise IT network or to transition a SONET/SDH network to an IP network, Cisco customers and executives shared solutions to these current challenges.

Customer presentations included a Research and Education (R&E) nonprofit, which showed the massive customer load they have on their network, as well as their core data center backbone. They shared how their next-generation project, started in 2017, will deploy Cisco’s Flex Spectrum ROADMs and 100GE termination that will optimize for space and power. Nsight, from Green Bay, Wisconsin, showed their expansion plans for this year and next. They also discussed their challenges with new technology, finding talent in their area and automating as much of the workload as possible.

Principle Optical Analyst Sterling Perrin from Heavy Reading provided an overview of network modernization and how legacy TDM has created an urgent problem. He addressed two architectural approaches, Optical Transport Networking (OTN) and Circuit Emulation (CEM). While Cisco customer Verizon initially liked the OTN option, they moved to the circuit emulation architecture when they realized that Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) will scale far better than mapping over Optical Data Units (ODUs). And while you can integrate SONET switching into an OTN/packet platform, the scalability of a terabit platform is reduced to Gbps, driving up the cost.

Glenn Wellbrock, Director, Optical Transport Networks for Verizon, then talked about how their network looks like an “old mix” of transport technologies, but that the good news is that CEM technology provides a path forward. Footprint savings are targeted at removing whole floors of digital access cross-connect (DAC) equipment and replacing it with two racks.

For a different approach that generated a lot of discussions, we welcomed Najam Ahmed, VP of Networking at Facebook, to talk about inclusion and diversity. He kicked things off with the quote “Diversity is being invited to the party; Inclusion is being asked to dance” by Vernā Myers.  Najam shared several links to videos which can all be seen here:

The role of disaggregation in optical networks was presented by Ron Johnson, Cisco Senior Director Product Management and Architecture, and it was generally noted by customers that the industry is talking about disaggregation, but that it’s still a sliding scale depending on the customer. Lorenzo Ghioni, Cisco Director Product Line Management, presented the roadmap for the NCS 1000, 2000 and 4000 as well as software releases. And Mala Krishnan, Director of Product Management for Cisco Optics, talked about client optics and their evolution in the market. All breakout sessions were well attended and covered network modernization, which included an ROI/TCO discussion, network scalability and flexibility with OTN and DWDM; automating the future using Cisco’s Crosswork automation framework; E2E automation for wweb-scale data center technology; and trends driving fiber connectivity and transport networking for the enterprise and public sector.

Almost 100 percent of survey responses indicated that we met or exceeded expectations with this year’s Spring PONC. But our customers, partners and analysts are what make our PONC event so successful. If you were able to join us, thank you for your attendance, and thank you to all those who made the event possible.

I look forward to our Rome PONC in November with a whole new set of customer case studies. See you there!


Bill Gartner

Senior Vice President/GM

Optical Systems & Optics Group