The flexible and adaptive network

Staff writer
24 Mar 2014

Bill Gartner, VP and GM of Cisco's converged optical and routing business unit, says new usage patterns are creating uncertainty and new variable capacity demands, which are driving the need for telcos to expand their networks without frequently overhauling them

Optical Evolution: Convergence is a key theme in your optical strategy, but different companies use the word in different ways - what does Cisco mean when it talks about convergence?

Gartner: When we talk about convergence we are referring to delayering the network, reducing capex and eliminating the boundaries between the packet and optical layers. By eliminating these boundaries through both control-plane and NMS/OSS innovations we dramatically increase network efficiency by sharing information within the network and across organizational boundaries, allowing for the creation of a more dynamic, efficient network.

Convergence includes an agile and intelligent DWDM layer that enables massive bandwidth scale, a multi-layer packet/optical control plane that extends standards-based G-MPLS to add the crucial topology sharing functionality that is currently lacking, and an NMS/OSS that enables top-to-bottom converged operations, administration, management and provisioning while providing the ability to respect organizational administrative domains.

What are the key trends driving this?

Service providers must find ways to increase revenue and reduce capital and operational costs from their networks. Increasing bandwidth, flexibility and network efficiency are key to achieving both of these goals.

With the explosive traffic growth on the network as a result of video, cloud and mobile based services combined with the proliferation of devices, customers are demanding intelligent, programmable, on-demand and secure services that are available anywhere. Furthermore, the traffic on the network continues to be pre-dominantly packet-based and while circuit-switched (TDM) traffic continues to decline rapidly. With this in mind, service providers are looking at new packet-based transport network architectures. To improve scale, increase flexibility and lower costs simultaneously service providers need this new packet-based transport architecture that delivers advances in multiple dimensions - packet-layer, optical-layer, control-plane and NMS/OSS systems - and then converge them into a sum greater than the parts.

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