Open and Automated: The New Optical Network

Communication service providers (CSPs) are increasingly transforming their networks with an eye towards more openness and automation. There has been a continued push to disaggregate optical networking platforms in order to drive down total cost of ownership and provide network operators with the flexibility to upgrade their networks while keeping up with the accelerated pace of innovation across different layers of the network framework stack. The promise of vendor interoperability and automated control through open standards, APIs and reference platforms are the key drivers enabling CSPs to make the shift to open.

There are varying degrees of openness that one can choose to adopt in this transition – from the proprietary systems of today to a fully disaggregated open optical network. The sweet spot in which the industry seems to be converging is to be partially disaggregated, as in the open line system (OLS) model. OLS provides a good trade-off between interoperability and performance; however, we still have a long way to go to make these systems future-proof and deployable. Multiple industry organizations such as the Open ROADM MSA, OpenConfig, Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and Open Disaggregated Transport Network (ODTN) are working towards bringing this vision of open networking to reality. Though there are multiple initiatives addressing disaggregation in optical transport, we believe there is a strong need for harmonization among them so that the industry can truly benefit from standardization of common models and APIs.

As optical equipment vendors aggressively evolve their offerings to help enable this open optical transformation, care must be taken to address the key business and technical requirements which are unique to each network operator, depending on the state of their current network infrastructure. There is no one single solution that can be applied across the board, bringing both challenges and opportunities to vendors who have embraced open and disaggregated architectures. The migration to open networking requires the operator to reevaluate the manner in which networks are architected, deployed and operated. Enabling this shift presents multiple challenges (such as network planning and design and multi-vendor control) when it comes to the implementation and operationalization of the various building blocks. Effectively addressing them will be key to this transformation.

Fujitsu believes a collaborative process with CSPs that involves a thorough assessment of the network architecture and OSS/IT workflows, along with establishing a phased deployment plan for implementation of hardware and software solutions, will be instrumental in navigating this transition seamlessly. The enclosed white paper provides an overview of the open optical ecosystem today, identifies and describes some of the key challenges to be addressed in implementing open automated networks, and outlines some migration strategies available to network operators embracing open networking.

About Raghavan Subramanian

Product Planner, Open Ecosystems