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Impacting the Optical Core: Technology Trends and Evolution – Part 1

Part 1 of a 4 Part Optical Core Blog Series

As technology evolves, networks must be prepared to handle new service and application requirements. Dramatic bandwidth growth intensifies the challenges of delivering the highest network performance at the lowest cost. From cloud computing and storage to video streaming, to the significant increase in mobile data access and devices, network capacity is pushed to the limit by everywhere, anytime access in the evolving communications landscape. Not only must capacity increase but market trends demand more advanced functionality, changes in network architectures, and changes in operational modes, procedures, and models. Four notable trends include:

  • Expanding network capacity due to significant traffic growth
  • Redefining the role of IT with a strong focus on new data center traffic patterns
  • Elevating the customer experience with ensured service availability
  • Disaggregating the optical layer which offers the opportunity for new product concepts

Video Dominates
Networks are under pressure from the continuing traffic explosion, in part from an increasing number of devices streaming an increasing number of videos. Based on the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI), internet video dominates consumer traffic in networks and will increase with a CAGR of 31% from 2015 to 2020. Video has become the new voice communication that requires more and more capacity. When once voice was the key driver to expand telecom networks, today, video is now the main driver for network buildouts. Network operators must address these ultra-high capacity demands with purpose-built, robust, and scalable solutions capable of effectively meeting end-user expectations now and into the future. At the same time, network operators are challenged to reduce costs with smarter solutions for expanding capacity. Networks must be re-architected to handle more capacity while driving down costs, for instance, by caching video content closer to the customer edge, which reduces the need for network buildouts. Simultaneously as internet traffic continues to run through the metro and optical core, data centers are reshaping existing traffic flows and requiring new designs. The dynamic changes presented by video are strongly influencing the evolution of transport networks.

Mobility Offers Strong Growth in Business Value
The always-on mentality for consumers and businesses alike is shaping the growth of mobile traffic. While mobile encompasses a small portion of the total traffic, the business value per bit for network operators is far beyond any other traffic type. Specifically, metro edge and metro core networks are faced with continued demand for new technologies to serve this traffic. The introduction of 5G will set the bar on technology requirements higher than ever. 5G will not only provide higher bandwidth to users, it will also support the Internet of Things (IoT) requirements with a narrow bandwidth, low power mode. Critical requirements for IoT are centered around extremely short latency of 1 msec while addressing the surging number of supported devices. IoT will impact metro architecture and pull micro data centers to the edge of the network to reduce the latency and handle smart preprocessing of data.

Cloud Traffic Changes Network Structures
Data center traffic patterns include data center to data center (DC to DC) and data center to user (DC to user). Both traffic flows leaving the data centers are expected to increase strongly through 2019 per the Cisco VNI with DC to DC traffic growing at a CAGR of 31% and DC to user traffic increasing by 25%. This substantial growth is triggered in part by a new IT trend: outsourcing IT equipment from the customer premises to the data center. IT outsourcing has pushed intranet traffic into the internet generating new traffic. However, not all data center traffic is new, and it still addresses the same users with the same or similar content. Traffic flows are reshaped with efficiency gains pushing data center buildouts due to evolving traffic patterns. This new IT trend will be discussed further in another blog.

Keeping Costs Down
Since revenues do not scale with traffic growth, the need to reduce CapEx and OpEx for network buildouts is a key focus area for optical core evolution. Two considerations are site and fiber related expenses:

  • To lower site related costs, Coriant offers solutions that can reduce the number of sites in a network while minimizing hardware installations and OpEx at each site. Leveraging solutions that increase bandwidth per lambda and reach per bandwidth deliver the strongest cost reductions, but optimizations such as fine tunable bandwidth provide additional benefits.
  • Fiber related costs are by far the highest expenses an operator may face (consider new buildouts). Thus, increasing capacity and improving utilization of existing fibers is paramount. Capacity can be boosted with 400G wavelengths and L-band support. In addition by taking optical impairments into consideration, network operators can accurately plan and ensure optimal fiber utilization.

Coriant is instrumental in empowering network operators to tackle the challenges of network and optical core evolution – all with focused attention on minimizing costs, enabling benchmark low power consumption, and reducing footprint. The Coriant edge-to-core portfolio offers optimized solutions to smoothly transform your network with next-generation capabilities and embrace the newest network trends and requirements.

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