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How Carriers Can Win in the Cloud Access Market with Premium OTN

Four recommendations for carriers to provide high-quality, differentiated OTN cloud access experiences for enterprises.

By Feng Chao, Optical Architecture & Technology Planning Dept, Huawei
Feb 2022
Huawei Tech Issue 93
Feng Chao

Today's enterprises have higher requirements on the networks that carry production and services. They need high-quality cloud access, industry private networks, access at any bandwidth granularity, a self-service experience, and more value-added services.

As such, carriers need to improve their networks, operations, products, and marketing. By deploying high-quality OTN cloud access, carriers can lay a strong foundation for developing enterprise services.

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Figure 1: Four upgrades for high-quality OTN cloud access

Recommendation 1: Network upgrades

Network upgrades aim to provide carriers with highly secure, reliable, perceptive, responsive, and convenient five-star cloud-network synergy experiences. Carriers can upgrade their networks in the following five ways to consolidate foundation networks and optimize service networks:

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Figure 2: Five ways to upgrade networks

1) User-end upgrades

Splitting CO sites can extend all-optical equipment to the user end and ensure wide coverage of areas with high user densities. Any enterprise should be able to conveniently and reliably access the OTN within 2 km of the equipment and immediately receive cloud access upon network access. 

User-end access can be diversified. OTN CPE can be deployed for high-value enterprise customers and in areas with insufficient coverage or the SDH network can provide access and OLTs can be reused. 

The P2MP solution can also be used, with OTNs and OLTs integrated to utilize ODNs and OTNs, so enterprises would receive better quality private line service experiences. Diverse access would help upgrade buildings to fully optical and intelligent, quickly provide coverage for commercial buildings and campuses, and offer a cost-effective, high-quality service experience for industries.

The P2MP solution provides quick coverage of OTN private lines that use the ODN in the passive access segment, delivering hard pipes on the ODN and high-quality private lines with deterministic latency. The solution is intended for mid-range business customers such as building/campus-based SMEs, commercial premises, digital security firms, and supermarket/hotel chains. It is cost effective and offers wide coverage and hard pipes. The solution has the following technical advantages:

Reliable low latency. The solution uses SDH-like timeslot allocation technology to limit the uplink latency of timeslot isolation between users in the access network to below 200 μs. The single-frame multi-burst solution reduces the DBA allocation period and reduces line dispatching latency from 125 μs to 62.5 μs.

Lower jitter. Every 5 seconds, the OLT detects ONTs that have gone online. Service wavelengths are then isolated from management wavelengths, so that management wavelengths can be measured in an independent window, reducing uplink latency jitter of the access network to less than 150 μs.

Secure slicing. Unlike home broadband or business broadband, P2MP private line implements physical isolation within the ODN and hardware isolation of OLTs. Independent slicing resources carry services on the OLTs' uplink line through OTN/OSU hard pipes, improving both security and quality.

Higher reliability. The OTN uplink interface of the OLT provides multi-layer protection while ensuring availability. Type-B protection can guarantee the security, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of the primary optical path when the user CPE accesses the network through an OLT. When an OLT is connected via uplink to a large network segment, 1+1 subnetwork connection protection (SNCP) and ASON self-healing protection ensure switchover in 50 ms and provide service recovery  capabilities that can resist multiple fiber cuts.

Enhanced E2E management. Through the collaborative management of NCE-T and NCE-FAN, E2E P2MP services can be provisioned in seconds. Bandwidth on demand (BoD), real-time visible SLA private line traffic, visible SLA latency, and historical data playback are all supported.

2) City-level upgrades

NG-OTN construction can be boosted and legacy resources retrofitted for SDH compatibility. For existing SDH/MSTP networks, carriers’ existing investments should be protected and network quality improved through construction, combination, and retrofitting, thus keeping the architecture stable and ensuring long-term business  growth.

Construction: Deploy new OTNs closer to the user end to deliver accurate, prioritized coverage to valuable areas and customers, and switch target customers from top businesses to numerous industries, ultimately achieving E2E, network-wide, high-quality optical connectivity.

Combination: Leverage the existing SDH network to provide quick access for business branches, and support multiple access methods at the access layer. 

Connect the existing MSTP access ring of live networks to the OTN aggregation ring to fully utilize MSTP resources, while achieving fast deployment and high returns on low investment. At the aggregation layer, establish handshake interconnection between SDH/MSTP and OTNs, and use OTN hard pipes to provide high-quality network bearing.

Retrofitting: Promote smooth interconnection between OTNs and SDH, and gradually migrate services from SDH/MSTP resources to OTNs to increase capacity by N times, increase connections by 10 times, and reduce latency by 70%. Energy can be saved and emissions reduced.

3) Provincial backbone upgrades

  • Deploy OXC and NG-OTN dispatching equipment as a cross-city service dispatching platform and the egress of inter-provincial services. 
  • Optimize the network structure to both enhance reliability and reduce latency. 
  • Deploy optical-cloud pipes for low-latency cloud access, pre-connect pipes from different cities to the cloud pools, configure ODU2/ODU4 bandwidth granularity, and select the routes with the lowest latency. 

These measures will facilitate millisecond-level, low-latency cloud access, and reserved bandwidth for transmission from a city to the cloud pool. 

Only local private lines need to be provisioned for cloud access. Provincial backbone, national backbone, and other city-level resources no longer need to be coordinated. Real-time resource monitoring and warning capabilities are provided for quick capacity expansion when needed.

4) Optical-cloud convergence pre-coverage

The OTN can directly connect to the cloud pool private line switch through multiple 10GE/100GE ports. The ports must be pre-connected and pre-configured based on their physical attributes (such as optical modules and fiber attributes) and forwarding capabilities (such as port rates and LAG capabilities) to facilitate one-hop access to the cloud.

5) Management capability upgrades

Huawei's NCE-T management and analysis platform provides carriers with an optical transmission slicing network (OTSN) that delivers multiple functions and supports hard security isolation. Carriers can provide customized private network services and evolve from private line sales to private network sales, enhancing customer loyalty, improving service quality, and increasing revenue. Carriers also have awareness of the dynamics of transport network resources, helping them establish network-side private line services, bandwidth calendars, visualized presentations of SLAs, and indicator evaluations. 

The platform precisely evaluates the availability of private lines, providing guaranteed services. It uses AI to determine optical network health and enables services like quick fault location. 

Carriers also benefit from standardized open northbound interfaces, so they can implement simultaneous provisioning and the suspension of integrated cloud-network services based on cloud pool resources.

Recommendation 2: Operations upgrade

Operations upgrade can improve the convenience of carriers' cloud access services and is a key factor in monetizing network capabilities. Service and production processes can be streamlined through three steps:

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Figure 3: Operation upgrade in three steps

Step 1: Embed management, control, and analysis capabilities in OTNs. NCE-T can enable network-wide equipment management, automation, and SLA display. Cloud pools require SDN capabilities to automate the configuration of cloud pool resources. Interconnection between northbound interfaces and upper-layer systems must be supported to open up network capabilities, and capabilities for the simultaneous provisioning and suspension of integrated cloud-optical services.

Step 2: Streamline processes for integrating the OSS and BSS domains. In the OSS domain, the service orchestration system is interconnected with the resource management and alarm systems, centralizing network capabilities. When OSS capabilities are available, they should be delivered to the device portal through the BSS system for use by end users and carrier personnel. The billing system must be interconnected to enable the billing of differentiated product operations of quality cloud-optical services, thus delivering integrated cloud-network services.

Step 3: Improve service capabilities to provide an experience that resembles online shopping. Improved portal capabilities broaden product capabilities to include services like such as tenant self-service O&M, self-service private line acceleration, and visible SLAs.

Recommendation 3: Product upgrade

OTN cloud-network synergy can help carriers shift from monetizing bandwidth to monetizing diverse service capabilities by expanding beyond providing just bandwidth. They can provide high-quality cloud-network service experiences for numerous industries based on the approach of dedicated network for dedicated cloud, which can in turn underpin national digital transformation.

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Table 1: Recommended integrated cloud-optical product packages

The goal of OTN cloud-network products is to deliver integrated cloud-optical private network products. This can be achieved in three phases: 

Phase 1: Provide cloud-based OTN products based on the OTN bearer network. This phase is not constrained by the progress of cloud product standardization. Services can be quickly launched through a simple online app to attract high-end customers.

Phase 2: Provide integrated cloud-optical product packages. In this phase, cloud products must provide standardized capabilities, including online apps for integrated cloud-network products, one-stop online subscriptions to cloud-network services, integrated cloud-network product services, and simultaneous cloud-network provisioning and suspension.

Phase 3: Provide integrated cloud-optical private-network products. Adding the OTSN private network capability to these products can address enterprise demands for multi-cloud access from multiple sites and help transform carriers' sales models from retail to wholesale. 

Carriers can provide combinations of different levels of access services across the network based on customer needs for diverse services, and thus deliver the most cost-effective combinations throughout the network. The multi-service access system for enterprises enables customers to access the Internet through a single optical fiber and access multiple clouds through branch interconnection using simple processes and operations. 

APIs can be used to flexibly schedule network resources and adjust scheduling policies.

Recommendation 4: Improve marketing 

Upgrading marketing is a key means of improving carriers' integrated OTN cloud-network products. Carriers can market product brands and ideas in several ways based on upgrades to networks, products, and operations. They can (1) establish benchmark projects of OTN cloud networks; (2) hold product launches; (3) host industry-specific promotion events; (4) expand product reach to more industries through keynote speeches at industry events; and (5) organize internal competitions and training for managers to improve marketing capabilities for promoting OTN cloud-network services.

Success is where preparation and opportunity meet. These four recommendations will prepare carriers to provide high-quality OTN cloud access services and boost competitiveness in the B2B market.