More and more, today’s network service providers are challenged to address ever increasing demands for capacity and higher performance. Yet at the same time, they are faced with flat subscriber revenues, driving the need for greater innovation, agility and cost reduction. These goals cannot be achieved, however, with legacy network technologies. Instead, a digital transformation to virtualized, cloud-native architectures is required in order to quickly and easily accommodate new or different network elements and functions. This paradigm shift will be made possible by greater adoption of open and disaggregated hardware that is standardized and model driven.
In recent years, we’ve seen a growing trend toward adoption of more open and automated networks to enable greater cost-efficiency by eliminating vendor lockin. As multiple industry organizations work to realize this vision, there has been considerable progress toward enabling open, disaggregated networks through open standards, API definitions and open-source reference platforms.
As a pioneer in open industry initiatives, Fujitsu participates in organizations such as the Open ROADM Multi-Source Agreement (MSA) and Telecom Infra Project (TIP) Open Optical and Packet Transport (OOPT) group to help advance standards and reference models. While some vendors still push for proprietary, one-size-fits-all solutions, Fujitsu has been delivering more fully disaggregated solutions that better equip communications service providers (CSPs) to right-size their networks with the flexibility to scale capacity or functionality as needed.
In fact, right-sizing a network is becoming increasingly important. Although traffic demands continue to escalate, the revenue needed to pay for additional capacity is not growing at the same rate. Historically, this phenomenon has been addressed through continuous technology innovation that drove down the cost per bit. However, the pace at which the cost per bit is declining has begun to slow down, leaving CSPs with a shrinking profit margin. To maintain cost-efficiency, service providers should avoid over-engineering the network from day one – and the more fully disaggregated a system you deploy, the better your ability to achieve this.
Finding the right fit
There is a misconception in the industry that open, multivendor network integration is overly challenging. In our customers’ experience, this has not been the case. One particular Tier 1 European operator demonstrated deployment of a disaggregated Fujitsu transponder over a third-party line system within 90 minutes of opening the boxes.
For larger more complex networks, however, complete integration of network management and control, along with service orchestration and automation, does present some challenges. This is due in large part to the fact that most vendors have tried to modify existing network management systems to operate in a multivendor environment. At Fujitsu, on the other hand, we developed a multi-tiered management system purpose-built for open, disaggregated network architectures.
Troubleshooting and maintaining disaggregated networks is also improving with greater use of artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. Today, AI systems can ingest data not only from multiple vendors’ network management and control systems, but also directly from network elements or offline data systems. Anomaly detection, correlation and time series prediction can then be applied to identify or even predict unusual behavior, greatly improving troubleshooting in multi-vendor networks.
As we begin to see greater commercial deployments of open optical networks, we expect to continue to see varying degrees of openness and disaggregation for a while, from fully integrated to OpenROADM. But the important point is that we are on the right path to a more agile and efficient future. To learn more about the progress toward open, disaggregated networks, read this article in the latest issue of Optical Connections Magazine. And then check out this Fujitsu application note to learn how to right-size your network to make the most of open and disaggregated architectures.