Time, Technology and Terabit Transport

If you measure time against technological progress, six years is a long time in optical networking. In 2012, we were congratulating ourselves for getting to 100G transport. Now we’ve officially reached 600G, as Fujitsu recently demonstrated on our new 1FINITY T600 blade, the latest in the 1FINITY transport series. Optical transport products are now available that can modulate photons to create signals with 600,000,000,000 bits of information packed into every second, and send those signals at close to the speed of light, traversing the globe almost instantaneously. To put this colossal capability into perspective, a 2 TB digital library could be transmitted virtually anywhere on the globe in seven seconds with a single T600.

It’s easy to disregard or minimize yet another technology advancement. But the implications of 600G and beyond are more significant and positive than simply an increased amount of Internet junk. For example, healthcare could become extremely collaborative across continents with a combination of real time data collection and data analytics with massive data rate transfers near real time. Universally available high-speed connections to a smartphone supports the kind of data gathering and analysis needed to understand our world better and develop remedies for the many serious problems we face.

Access to information is the chief means of empowerment in both personal and business life. Consequently, it is important deploy this 600G technology rather than, for example, hold to the false economy of continued deployments at slower rates. Being able to transmit entire libraries in seconds is an awesome power that opens up rich possibilities. The network occupies a critical role as the foundation of the connected digital economy that, one way or another, is making stakeholders out of every one of us. So, one might say our industry has an economic and moral imperative to drive the highest possible speeds and capacities as deep into communities as possible. High-speed connectivity fosters opportunity, learning and commerce. In the final analysis, more really IS better when it comes to the network.

Automation and Operations in the Modern Network: Bridging the Gap Between Legacy and Digital Infrastructure

In terms of network automation, we’re beyond removing manual tasks, speeding up production, and improving service quality. In the face of complex mesh network architectures, automated network slicing with guaranteed SLAs, as well as real-time spectrum and resource management, automation has become a foundational capability that is required for sheer survivability in basic network operations. The need for high-scale, intelligent control and management of end points, elastic capacity, and dynamic workloads and applications will only grow.

As the network virtualizes to accommodate connection-aware applications, the need for disaggregated, open and programmable hardware and software also gets stronger. To deliver on-demand services to bandwidth-hungry mobile consumers, the modern network must find ways to combine legacy gear that is vendor-proprietary and domain specific with virtual network elements and functions over merged wireline and wireless infrastructure. That requires software platforms and applications that connect and control physical and virtual network elements, automates network planning, provisioning and management, provides real-time network topologies, and increases the efficiency of traffic management and path computation up and down the network stack. It also paves the way for Communication Service Providers to implement service-oriented architectures that put business needs before arcane methods of network management that are required, but do not necessarily drive incremental revenue.

This type of agile network requires an agile deployment model that is predicated on open, disaggregated, and programmable physical and virtual infrastructure, as well as SDN-enabled applications that use open models. Disaggregated NE’s can deliver new capabilities without disrupting the existing production network, and SDN-enabled applications tie it all together seamlessly.

This approach has the advantage of increasing revenue velocity and speeding up the adoption of digital networking while maintaining the investment in the existing physical infrastructure.

Operationalizing the open and programmable network.

As closed and proprietary network segments give way to open network architectures that include Open Line Systems, Open ROADM, and the open APIs that connect them, operational gaps will emerge that require detailed integration and design considerations from a software perspective. This requires an understanding of disaggregation, service-oriented architectures, open APIs, and the ability to break all of that down into discrete datasets that can be mined by artificial intelligence so that CSPs know what levers to pull to improve the customer experience or deliver new types of services.

Microservices and container-based applications have the ability to fill those gaps without costly capital initiatives. Just as an SDN platform abstracts multi-vendor network elements from service provisioning applications to facilitate intent-based networking, container technologies abstract applications from the server environment where they actually run. Containerization provides a clean separation of “duties”; developers can focus on application logic and dependencies, while network operations can focus on management. Container-based microservices and microapplications can be deployed easily and consistently, regardless of the target environment.

This construct provides the ideal set up for operations teams that identify “holes” in the production environment. In the past, product managers and operations teams would have been forced to wait for lengthy development cycles to take advantage of new feature functionality. Now, with microservices and microapplications, new functionality can be developed quickly, more efficiently, and generate additional revenue inside the customer window of opportunity.

Microapplications are inherently cloud-native, and can be used to integrate newer technologies into monolithic systems without waiting for maintenance windows that may or may not include the capability. Examples of microservices include:

  • Customer IP circuit connections
  • A virtual gateway network element
  • Multi-vendor network element backup
  • IP forwarding loop detection
  • Bandwidth optimization

These microservices can augment existing SDN-enabled applications and infrastructure to provide precision solutions that impact revenue generating OSS/BSS applications. They also have the ability to accelerate lab testing and certification cycles so that new applications can be deployed faster and more effectively.

In addition to speed and efficiency, microservices and applications can also make the network more resilient and flexible. Since they can be deployed without impacting other services, developers can enhance the performance of one service without impacting other services.

All of this requires vendor adherence to, and cooperation with, open models that are streamlined for coordinated control and management across all network domains that include end-to-end connectivity services (MPLS, Carrier Ethernet, IP VPN, etc.) In the modern network, every touch point is engineered to do its job faster and more efficiently, whether it is legacy or digital network gear. Microservices and microapplications are a part of that solution, providing new capabilities that are free from traditional operational constraints, bridging the gap between legacy and digital infrastructure with precision solutions that drive revenue now, rather than later.

For more information about Fujitsu’s Microapplications practice, please visit http://www.fujitsu.com/us/products/network/products/microapplications-practice/

Digitizing the Customer Experience

Digitization of the network is reshaping the telecom landscape as customer data consumption habits change thanks to new, disruptive technologies. We’ve gone from a LAN connection on a desktop in your home to a cellular device in your pocket, and regular customers expect to access content whenever and wherever they are. This means that service providers are in trouble if they can’t adjust. They must find a solution that will keep the network healthy and adopt new technologies suited to today’s demands.

Today’s Network Operations Center (NOC) monitors the entirety of a network, actively working to keep everything healthy. However, it’s fundamentally reactive, with thousands of alarms piling up each day for operators to sift through. Current operations are handled manually, creating difficulties when trying to onboard new technologies. Digitizing the NOC to meet customers’ demands requires automation that will turn its reactive nature into a proactive one.

To ensure the health of a network, service providers need a service assurance solution capable of providing fault and performance management, as well as closed-loop automation. Fault and performance management uses monitoring, root-cause analysis, and visualization to proactively identify and notify operators of potential problems in the network before a customer can experience them. Providing closed-loop automation, a service assurance platform continuously collects, analyzes, and acts on data gathered from the network. When combined with machine learning, a service assurance platform becomes an essential part of the NOC. Altogether, a service assurance platform can cut the number of alarms by 50%, a significant reduction considering that a provider may collect close a million alarms each month.

A targeted network management solution provides an accessible path for network migration. While legacy equipment is guaranteed to work, it may not be the best fit for digitization. Integrating a targeted network management solution into your NOC helps bridge the gap between new technologies and vendors with legacy equipment. It supports a multivendor environment, allowing the NOC to manage both new and legacy equipment from different vendors in the same ecosystem. As well, targeted network management enables service providers to bring new services to market twenty times faster due to significant improvements made to the onboarding of new technologies and vendors into the network.

An automated NOC that contains both service assurance and targeted network management provides a network perfectly suited for the changing digital landscape. Service assurance helps keep the network up and running by identifying critical issues so that no matter where or how users access the network, they will be provided with a seamless experience. Targeted network management helps quickly onboard new technologies and vendors that will help push towards digitalization. Combined in a 24x7x365 NOC, service providers are prepared for whenever, wherever, and however, a customer chooses to interact with the network.

For a customer or business, the advantages of an automated NOC are exceptional. Customers don’t have to worry about any issues regarding the accessing of data from any device, anywhere or at any time of day. For businesses, the proactive nature of service assurance and the simple network migration of targeted network management helps ease operating expenses and mean-time-to-repair. Digitization isn’t slowing down for anyone, and service providers offer a way to hop on the train.

5G Transport: From Vision to Reality

Part one in a blog series about how Fujitsu is bringing the 5G vision to life

On the road to 5G, there are a number of different paths that communications service providers (CSPs) can choose. This blog is the first in a series about our vision for the 5G RAN, and how Fujitsu is working with leading CSPs to co-create these networks and bring 5G to life.

Transport is vital for building a robust and reliable network. The xHaul ecosystem consists of the backhaul, midhaul and fronthaul transport segments.  Dedicated dark fiber, WDM and packet technologies are used within these transport segments. As CSPs evolve their networks from 4G / LTE to 5G, there are several options explaining how those transport networks will be designed.

In a “Split Architecture,” the distribution unit (DU) connects to many macro site radio units (RUs) over multiple fronthaul fiber paths. This is a similar architecture to the 4G central RAN (C-RAN) where there is a central point; the DU in this case, fanning out to multiple macro sites for interconnect with the 5G radios, also known as RUs or Transmission Reception Points (TRPs).  This efficient technique is referred to as RAN Pooling, and along with cell site aggregation, offers mobile network operators the ability to engineer the RAN capacity based on clusters of sites coming into the central point DUs, instead of individual cell site demands.

The “Distributed DU” architecture involves DUs collocated with RUs at the cell site.  The distributed DU use case offers a latency sensitive architecture by eliminating the fronthaul transport path.  The fronthaul becomes a local connection between the top and bottom of the tower via fiber cable.  This is a low latency configuration, which also reduces costs by eliminating the fronthaul transport section.  The tradeoff is a loss of multi-site pooling and cell site aggregation with macro cell sites. Moreover, the midhaul capacity is reduced to 10GE rates.

Finally, there is the “Integrated DU” architecture, which integrates the DU into the RU at the cell site.  This architecture offers similar benefits as the Distributed DU use case, but with an additional advantage of lower CapEx and OpEx by combining these devices.   The combined DU and RU reduce the number of devices to install, manage and maintain resulting in expedited service turn-up and faster time to revenue.

To learn more, register for an archived webinar “New Transport Network Architectures for 5G RAN” with Fujitsu and Heavy Reading analyst Gabriel Brown: www.lightreading.com/webinar.asp?webinar_id=1227

DCI Growth Planning and the Bandwidth Amplification Effect

As more and more traffic is driven into data centers, in turn pressure builds between and among data centers. This phenomenon is known as the “bandwidth amplification effect,” which essentially means that when X amount of user traffic passes into a data center, it generates many times that amount of traffic within the data center and between that data center and others. This is why there is an urgent need for more data center interconnect (DCI) bandwidth and higher line rates to support these demands.

Operators have a couple of options for meeting DCI traffic demand. One is to increase fiber count and the other is to increase the line data rate. Increasing the data rate is far more common and economical and is accomplished with new bandwidth-variable transponders. Data rate increases may seem like the obvious remedy for boosting DCI bandwidth, but this option brings consequent issues and impairments along the optical path. These issues must be corrected via ROADMs and amplifiers. Although the modulation scheme is the most important aspect to consider when increasing DCI bandwidth, several other factors come into play. Among these are dispersion compensation, error correction, link distance (reach), amplification, channel width, and spectral tilt.

My new article on Lightwave summarizes the challenges and technologies associated with growing DCI traffic through higher line rates, and discusses each of the most important factors to be considered when planning the best way forward. Moving to higher line rates for DCI is an effective and economical way to address continued DCI growth, but a variety of equipment upgrades and new techniques are needed to adequately address new optical impairments and achieve the benefits of higher line rates.

Keeping the Lights On

In rural areas, groups of towns are often connected by a telecommunications ring or rings. Schools, municipalities, hospitals and other customers are connected to communications services over these rings.

In this type of environment, high school football games are often important community events; video feeds of the games, usually on Friday nights (hence the term “Friday night lights”), are a significant source of traffic on rural communications networks.

Throughout the last decade, service providers in these communities have met communication needs with 10G networks. As demands increase from booming wireless, internet and other communications traffic, these 10G networks are being outgrown. Growth is good, but meeting growth with the right technology can be a challenge.

Service providers seeking to address this problem often ask for n × 10G DWDM networks.  But is this the best technology?  An n × 10G network will meet today’s traffic needs, but its ability to meet future needs in terms of both capacity and service types is not certain. Virtually all n × 10G networks use non-Coherent technologies. We see upcoming demand growth in the next few years for 100G services, which happen to require a Coherent optical network, but non-Coherent DWDM systems cannot handle 100G Coherent channels.  That spiffy new n × 10G DWDM network won’t pass muster when these 100G service demands arrive. Is there an alternative approach than can meet current needs, accommodate 100G services in the future and still be economical?

A service provider could deploy a Layer 2 Ethernet switch that utilizes a single 100G or 200G ring. In this network, there would be a carrier-grade Layer 2 100/200G switch for each city, with a single 100/200G ring between each community. This Ethernet approach provides capacity similar to the n × 10G DWDM network. Additionally, the Ethernet ` is more economical than the DWDM version once the number of 10G wavelengths grows beyond five channels. When 100G service demands arrive, it is easy to accommodate these new services by adding an n × 10G Coherent DWDM system with little impact to the 100 GbE ring.  Additionally, an Ethernet network can offer E-Line and E-LAN services instead of the optical services on the n × 10G DWDM network.

A 100 GbE Layer 2 network is more forward-looking, and it future-proofs a service provider’s network. If providers want to “keep the lights on” for the Friday night football game, a 100G Ethernet ring is a more versatile and long-lasting choice than an n × 10G DWDM network.

Top 10 Things that Favor Packet-Driven Networks

Several technologies, such as Ethernet and WDM, can be utilized in a packet-driven network (PDN). PDNs are a common approach to aggregation and transport of wireless backhaul, business services and in some cases, residential services.

Like any product, the secret sauce for a PDN is the feature set. Let’s take a look at the packet-driven top ten most valuable features.

  1. Ubiquity – Ethernet is everywhere. Every computer has an Ethernet port and you can buy Ethernet switches at Fry’s.
  2. Economy – Since all computers and routers have Ethernet ports, the cost is driven by consumer price erosion curves. Carrier-grade Ethernet equipment’s economy benefits from the components that are becoming commoditized.
  3. Interoperation – Ethernet is standardized and the service provider typically doesn’t need to worry about an Ethernet port from one device/manufacturer working with another manufacturer’s product.
  4. Services (E-Line and E-LAN) – Ethernet services are standardized via MEF, so E-Line and E-LAN services provide necessary features and interoperate regardless of vendor.
  5. Classes of service – Different types of traffic, such as voice, video, email and texts, have different requirements—but Ethernet offers multiple classes of service to appropriately manage different kinds of traffic.
  6. Variable service sizes –Different services need different amounts of bandwidth. Ethernet offers tremendous variability in service size to accommodate these variations.
  7. Protection – Ethernet offers two different sub-50 ms switching techniques so that, in case of failure, the service keeps going.
  8. Port bonding – There are situations where one port is not enough; bonding two ports together overcomes this limitation. Ethernet supports LAG (Link aggregation), which allows multiple ports to be bonded.
  9. Per-service PM – Ethernet provides ways to monitor the performance of a specific service.
  10. DWDM ports – Finally, the economics of the solution can be improved by incorporating DWDM into the Ethernet ports, so that an aggregated link can go directly over a DWDM system without the transponder. Some Ethernet switches incorporate the transponder into the Ethernet port.

The Fujitsu 1FINITY S100 Switch is a 1RU Ethernet switch that features modular I/O PIUs and supports up to 1.2 Tbps of switching capacity.  It offers the “right” feature set for packet-driven networking, including E-Line and E-LAN services with G.8031 and G.8032 sub-50 ms switching and Y.1731 per service performance metrics. With the S100 blade you can easily apply the value of the Ethernet “top ten things” to many applications, such as wireless backhaul, business services, and Ethernet aggregation in many different topologies.

Get Smart: Why the Future of Your City Depends on Smart Infrastructure

The single biggest factor in determining the fate of your city’s digital future is its technological infrastructure. Because we live in an internet-based, digital age, if your city wants to be at the forefront of progress, economic development, growth, and relevance – it must invest wisely.

The right kind of infrastructure – high-speed fiber and wireless broadband – is essential. By comparison, the strength of a building lies in its foundation. A poorly constructed foundation can’t be counted on to support the load of the entire structure. Likewise, your city’s broadband infrastructure must be a rock-solid foundation so it, too, can provide the critical platform to deliver enhanced services, innovate and enable a smart city.

Those cities that have invested in a broadband infrastructure view it as an asset, just as valuable to their community as its other public infrastructure – water, streets, sewer lines, or gas/electric utilities.

Today, incumbent carriers aren’t upgrading networks or extending broadband services fast enough for unserved or underserved smaller and rural communities. As a result, many communities are left to lease aged, copper-based networks. Unfortunately, these communities’ economic fates become dependent, in part, upon the incumbent carriers’ network modernization timetables. By not being able to take control over their destinies, many cities adopt a wait-and-see approach which puts them at a big disadvantage to other, more proactive cities. It puts the city and its residents behind the technology curve and forces them to play the catch-up game.

Modern cities require modern infrastructure. In order for your city to solidify itself as economically viable, competitive, and a desirable place to live, you must undergo a digital transformation. Doing so is the catalyst for a fundamental reshaping of your city’s digital future. With a modern broadband foundation, you will have the primary building blocks for cloud infrastructure, sensors, smart services and applications. All of which give your municipality an edge as you evolve toward a smart city – a smart infrastructure with the connected connectivity, data, artificial intelligence (AI) and the enhanced capability to solve pressing civic issues.

The Drawbacks of an Outdated City Communications Infrastructure

Being deprived access to the most up-to-date technology can make your city feel old-fashioned and pose an inconvenience to your residents, anchor institutions, and businesses. A leased, copper-based network can be rife with challenges, including limited bandwidth capacity, a lack of intelligence to inform, and interoperability complexities when rolling out smart city technologies. Not to mention that copper can carry far less data at far slower speeds than fiber – which means many of the cloud- or Internet-based technologies associated with smart infrastructure cannot effectively be operated or hosted.

Bottom-line, an outdated infrastructure is a limiting factor. For example, it can be a deterrent for attracting outside business investments, tourism, people migration, and job growth.

How can a City Leverage Smart Applications?

Connected applications offer your city numerous possibilities to take advantage of a smart infrastructure. Your city personnel can use the data you’ve collected from connected infrastructure to make informed decisions about what makes your city run best – and this is what ultimately makes a city smart.

There is a wide range of smart city applications available today, including:

  • Active security: Increase your level of smart protection with technologies like facial and license plate recognition, gunshot detection, perimeter patrolling, and crowd counting. They give your security officers greater situational awareness on recognizing potential hazards, understanding when a situation is escalating, and knowing how to respond appropriately.
  • Parking and Transportation: Smart parking technology can detect parking space availability, automate metering, dynamically price spaces, issue tickets, and collect payments.Also, by leveraging connected cameras coupled with AI, traffic engineers can better manage traffic flows and synchronize signals. This capability provides the smarts necessary to lessen congestion, reduce air pollution, and ease commuting stress.

Co-creation Brings it all Together

When you’re ready to make the bold step forward on your digital transformation journey, you don’t have to go it alone. As your innovation partner, we’ll take a collaborative approach to plan, design, integrate, and implement your vision from concept to reality – whether that’s building a multivendor broadband network from scratch or upgrading it with smart infrastructure, including operating and maintaining it. Working together, we’ll co-create a unique solution that delivers real outcomes – real success to your community, including public safety, economic opportunity, operational efficiencies, and civic engagement.

Operationalizing Disruption: A Shout-Out to the Grumpy Guy

The future network is reliant on disruptive technology. Let me already correct myself: The future network is reliant on actually implementing disruptive technology. That means clearing away the smoke and mirrors and passing the baton to the operations team who have the daily responsibility of taking SDN, NFV, SD-WAN and other technologies out of the proof-of-concept lab and putting them to work in the real world. This is what I mean by the term operationalizing disruption.

It seems incongruous but only on the surface: How can we make disruptive technology be no longer disruptive?  What it comes down to—when all the vendors have left the negotiating table—is a shift in emphasis to the practical aspects of running a reliable network. The network technology changes happening now are not linear go faster, further, or fatter incremental improvements. We already have methodologies in place to absorb those into today’s operational environments. Migration to disruptive technologies like SDN and NFV, though, is a fundamental shift and revolutionary—and it is uncharted territory.

As a trusted business partner, everything we do is about helping our customers successfully navigate positive change in their networks. Because when it all gets integrated and the new POC starts being implemented, it’s not about the shiny new stuff itself anymore—it’s about being able to control our customer’s end-user’s experience.

When we look at customer needs, each functional area has its own unique perspective. While the planners may be excited about modeling the new technology and adopting it before the competition, the CIO may be a little grimacy because of the need to code up and flow through a lot more connections in an already constrained budget.

But the operations side of the house has a unique challenge because they are entrusted to deliver reliability SLAs on the traditional network to generate the return for their corporation.  When it comes to network migrations, it can be a heavy workload to balance upgrades with consistent network performance. That’s why, during the early phases of disruptive change projects, the ops people at the table might be a little skeptical. Some mistake this for being innovation-unfriendly. Far from it. They have a right to be cautious. They’re the ones who deliver value for the entire organization because they’re the ones who keep the network performing continuously and predictably and daily to meet SLAs for banks, hospitals, data centers. Essentially they ensure everyone else gets paid. You can’t blame them for treating the latest disruptive brainchild with more than a few questions, especially if they are told how great it will all be…but nobody really knows how to control it, monitor it, or troubleshoot it.

It’s easy to focus on the cool factor of turning real network things into virtual network things. But the Operations view is undoubtedly that you have to keep these virtual things in the realm of reality, since they have to be reliable and useful in the real world.

So, here is a shout out to those grumpy guys – the unexpected heroes of network reliability and delivering daily on corporate financial performance.

At Fujitsu Network Communications, we recognize that operationalizing disruptive change probably means we have to invent some new science. We are working on defining the right skills, the new processes, and the best tools to help our customers accelerate their adoption of disruptive technology. By doing so, we help our customers bring their future into now.

Diversity and Digital Transformation: How Fujitsu Uses Innovation to Improve Inclusion

Fujitsu Network Communications is one of the leading companies in America when it comes to networking technology and solutions. They haven’t just made a name for themselves in tech, however. They’ve also made a huge impact when it comes to diversity and inclusion in the workplace, focusing on initiatives that help balance the makeup of the workforce and ensure all types of people have access to opportunities for advancement and career growth.

Greater Diversity and Increased Inclusion Equals Better ROI

As a diversity and inclusion champion, Fujitsu values the opportunity to enable collaboration and participation from a wide range of people. By making a concerted effort to be inclusive and invite a diverse group into the process, they have become the leader in a digital transformation that is rapidly reshaping the technological landscape. Empowering more people to have input has resulted in solutions that serve a larger group of people and meet a wider range of needs across a larger spectrum of the population, thereby increasing ROI.

Fujitsu is Led By Champions of Diversity

Fujitsu doesn’t simply uphold a general philosophy of inclusion and diversity. They also place leaders at the helm of the company who make acceptance and diversity a priority in hiring, promotion, and all facets of corporate life.

One such leader is Director of ICP and North American Carrier Sales for Fujitsu, Heidi Westbrook. Recently interviewed at the Women in Comms conference in Austin, TX on May 14, 2018, Westbrook explained how Fujitsu’s open work culture doesn’t just impact the machines people work with and the processes they use, but also defines the makeup of the company and the opportunities to which people have access.

As a female leader in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Westbrook encourages women and those who feel in the minority to advocate for themselves at work. She feels that, while self-advocacy is a forced or learned skill, it can also be encouraged by having a network of people around that know your value and are familiar with the unique talents you have to contribute to the organization. Westbrook reminds women that while they absolutely face unique challenges in the workforce, those challenges can be used to make them stronger. For example, women who are mothers and have families at home, she says, can succeed at both, noting that when someone does well at home, they typically do well at work– and vice versa.

A final piece of advice from Westbrook: Have discussions about goals and remember what your talents are, without ever losing confidence in those talents. Women should remember that they are delivering value to the organization because of what they bring to the table, and keep focused on their strong points, no matter what obstacles they face.

Watch the entire interview with Westbrook here: https://www.lightreading.com/business-employment/women-in-comms/fujitsus-sales-director-be-your-own-champion/v/d-id/743119

At Fujitsu, company leaders understand that diversity spurs innovation and leads to more successful digital transformation. By focusing on diversifying the workforce and opening up opportunities to people of all races, genders, backgrounds, and more, the company does important work to create a more open and welcoming world.