Are you ready for Elastic Optical Networks?

Dynamic, elastic, highly scalable networks are required to handle the increasing volume of traffic that is being created by video services, mission-critical 5G applications, IoT and other services. Do you have the visibility into every layer of your network to meet these demands?


Planning, building, and maintaining networks are key activities, and never more so than in today’s dynamic, elastic, virtualised network environments. Ensuring the effective operation and expected performance of the network, with dynamically changing resources, is now more than ever a continuous cycle of monitoring, analysing, and optimising.

A continual cycle of network planning, building, and upgrading

Building and upgrading the network never stops, and with the added complexity of testing and launching new services on an ongoing basis to meet performance KPIs and SLAs, and to maintain competitive advantage. In that sense, the network can be viewed as a continual production environment providing customers with the services they demand, at the quality they expect. 

Today’s consumers have a broad choice of service providers and so poor network performance, unimaginative differentiated services, or unacceptable QoE means that they will switch providers almost instantly.

This phase is known as the ‘I-use’ phase and represents the longest period of customer engagement. During this phase, it’s essential to continue innovating, including network upgrades, new orders, new requirements and more – all of which means your business needs to be flexible to keep pace with (or even anticipate) the needs of your customers.

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Flexible, elastic networking is required at every level

Flexibility is the new name of the game when it comes to network operation and performance, with cloud-hosted elastic and dynamic services set to have an impact on every layer of the network, and importantly on the optical layer.

Networks will need to support network slicing, private networks, mission-critical applications such as autonomous vehicles, IoT, Industry 4.0, robotics, increasing demand for video, and countless other applications and services.

Video, particularly, consumes enormous resources, and with cost reduction and competition essential considerations, service providers and carriers are looking to reduce and optimise the cost of traffic transport as a matter of urgency.

The upshot is that dynamic reconfiguration of the network is inevitable, to meet a variety of goals. Not only do service providers need to manage elastic capacity, but they also need to do so cost-effectively and with consideration to energy consumption (reduction) goals.

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Are you ready for Elastic Optical Networks?

One aspect of that is the optical layer, with Elastic Optical Networks (EONs) currently receiving a lot of attention and research resources. EONs enable high-capacity data transmission with spectrum allocated according to traffic demands, and are expected to usher in the ‘100 GB/s era’.

EONs differ from traditional WDM (wavelength division multiplexing) systems in that they can adapt to channel bandwidth requirements according to demand by changing the transmission channel spacing. So, for example, if a channel is allotted 12.5 GHz of space, but is only using 5 GHz, the EON dynamically compresses the spacing to just over 5GHz (to allow for margin of error). If the channel needs more bandwidth, the EON expands accordingly.

It means that if there is little traffic on the network at any point, a lot of bandwidth spectrum will go unused, which saves power. Furthermore, signals can be easily and quickly routed by both bandwidth and data size, with spacing expanded or contracted to account for the traffic on each channel.

Inventory Management Systems will be essential in the 100GB/s era

Elasticity and flexibility at the optical layer are becoming imperative, which means that – just like every other aspect of an elastic, scalable network architecture – optical networks need to be fully integrated into operational systems, so that long-term changes, as well as dynamic and volatile changes, can be tracked.

That’s why an inventory management system is essential. Network operators and carriers need to have complete visibility into changes in network configuration, resource allocation and customer assignments, in near real-time and on a continuous basis, to understand how these changes are impacting other systems, services and operations.

As the industry embraces dynamic, scalable network architectures it’s even more important to have visibility into every layer of the network. The question to ask yourself is: “Am I ready for the flexible networks of tomorrow and the new elastic optical environment?”

If the answer is not a resounding “Yes’, then it may be time to talk to VC4 about how we can help you to embrace elastic networking and gain visibility into every layer of the network architecture. Get in touch today to find out more.

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