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A clear transport vision with CloudOptiX

2017.06.27 By Nie Yi, Wang Jinhui

According to Ovum's Optical Networks Forecast Report: 2016–21, carriers and OTT service providers will continue increasing investment in optical networks based on continued traffic growth, with the optical network market set to be worth US$19 billion by 2021.

As network functions and service applications shift to the cloud, east-west traffic between data centers will skyrocket. Pipe bandwidth requirements for data center interconnections will increase at least sixfold in the next five years, and bandwidth-intensive services such as 4K/8K video and VR/AR services will drive up traffic between users and data centers.

A first with CloudOptiX

To deploy OTN devices in lower network layers, Huawei launched its future-oriented CloudOptiX solution at MWC 2017. For the first time ever, the solution applies cloud concepts to restructuring transport networks.

The traditional siloed O&M model is OPEX-heavy and delivers low per-capita O&M efficiency. In Google data centers, for example, each engineer can maintain and manage thousands of servers. In carrier networks, each engineer can maintain and manage just 20 to 50 devices. The network O&M costs of carriers are two to three times higher than device investment. Carriers are in urgent need of a full-lifecycle management tool that improves management efficiency and slashes O&M costs.

During evolution from OptiX to CloudOptiX, Huawei uses cloud concepts to restructure traditional pipes and applies OXC+OTN and OTN to CO to simplify basic network architecture. In addition, Huawei uses the full-lifecycle cloud management platform, Network Cloud Engine (NCE), to optimize O&M and build a simpler, future-oriented transport network.

DC-centric simplified architecture

On a backbone network, the rapid growth of DC interconnection services dramatically increases the switching capacity of backbone network nodes. In the next three to five years, the switching capacity of a super core node is expected to exceed 100T. The OTN switching capacity of a single device ranges from several Terabits to tens of Terabits. Due to power consumption and footprint constraints, the electrical cross-connect capacity of a single subrack is close to hitting its upper limit and cannot meet Terabit switching requirements. 

Huawei has launched the industry's first all-optical cross-connect equipment, the OXC. Based on wavelength-level switching, OXC uses LCOS silicon photonics technologies to achieve a cross-connect capacity of 320T to 640T. To do so, it uses just 100W of power, resolving the conflict between switching capacity and power consumption. 

OXC’s optical backplane eliminates the complex fiber connections of ROADM, reduces connection losses, and improves system reliability. OXC+OTN constructs full-mesh simplified transport networks and interconnects DCs at the lowest latency based on wavelength grooming of up to 32 optical directions from the OXC, and the access and grooming of small-granularity services from the OTN. Like an airline network, OXC implements one-hop direct transmission from any source node to any target node.

To cope with the north-south traffic increase from video services on metro networks, the Huawei OTN to CO concept deploys OTN at network edges. It constructs a large-capacity, one-hop transmission, and multi-service bearer network between COs and DCs, satisfying the bandwidth and experience requirements of video services and leased lines. 

OTN to CO also provides a simplified transport platform that can carry all services, thereby unifying the bearing of fixed, mobile, and leased line services and reducing carriers' investment in equipment.

More than 200 carriers worldwide have deployed an OTN to CO network – as of Q1 2017,  over 50 European tier-1 carriers had commercialized OTN to CO networks, including Vodafone, Telefonica, Orange, and Belgacom. Estimates hold that OTN to CO will cover 50 percent of CO sites in Europe by the end of 2017. Over the next three years, China Mobile aims to achieve over 90 percent CO site coverage, building on its current position of 20,000 CO sites.

Full lifecycle management

In a traditional network management system, the planning tool, NMS, and controller are independent of each other. Moreover, user interfaces are not unified, internal data cannot be shared, and O&M efficiency is low. 

To evolve from OptiX to CloudOptiX, Huawei provides the NCE, a unified management and control platform comprising planning, management, control, and analysis units. The NCE includes all the management functions needed for the entire network lifecycle, helping carriers improve O&M efficiency with a one-stop solution.

The planning unit migrates network design from offline to online. It connects to the management unit and controller and obtains live-network data automatically and regularly, rather than manually. The simulation module implements network simulation and verification based on the planning result, achieving design as delivery. This directly delivers data to the management unit and controller to enable online service configuration.

The management unit uses algorithms to abstract hardware architecture as logical network resource models, and implements visualized management over networks, services, wavelengths, and optical fibers at all layers.

The control unit is an app based on the controller’s open architecture. It provides functions like applying for self-service bandwidth, adjusting bandwidth in real time, and reserving bandwidth. Moreover, it shortens service provisioning from weeks to minutes, making services far more agile.

The analysis unit analyzes survivability, rapidly locates service and hardware faults, and provides ASON service protection and ECOS hardware protection, greatly improving service survivability and automating O&M. 

The analysis unit uses advanced big data analysis algorithms and artificial intelligence to dynamically predict network quality deterioration and faults, further improving network survivability and self-healing capabilities. It transmits data to the planning unit for guidance on network upgrades and reconstruction, forming a closed-loop system and automating O&M.

As a full-lifecycle management platform, the NCE streamlines planning, management, control, and analysis to form a closed-loop system. It implements design as delivery, network visualization, service agility, and O&M automation to simplify O&M processes and improve O&M efficiency.

Increasing leased line revenue 

Leased lines account for over 40 percent of fixed network carriers’ total revenues. China's leased line market, for example, will exceed US$7.5 billion in 2017, with year-on-year growth of 10 percent. By constructing fixed networks, mobile carriers are also developing leased line services – in 2016, China’s Mobile’s leased line service grew by 96 percent, and competition to win high-value subscribers is intensifying accordingly.

Optical networks boast the lowest and most stable latency and are the best choice for leased lines. The CloudOptiX leased line solution deploys MS-OTN devices on the physical layer and uses physical hard pipes to guarantee low latency. On the management and control plane, the NCE uses the controller to centrally manage network-wide resources, eliminating isolated network management by region and guaranteeing quick provisioning of E2E leased lines. The controller obtains network information, such as link latency, in real time and uses a centralized algorithm to provide high-quality leased lines with low latency for enterprise customers.

Leased lines are also a profit growth source for China Unicom. But, homogeneous competition for VIP leased lines is fierce in China, and customer requirements are increasing for features such as guaranteed low latency for paths and faster service provisioning. 

To better serve finance and government customers, China Unicom chose Huawei as its partner for deploying MS-OTN on its national backbone network and expanding MS-OTN to major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, to build a dedicated nationwide network for large financial centers. China Unicom also uses Huawei controllers to offer leased line service packages with guaranteed low latency for finance customers. It provides optimal and suboptimal paths with different latency levels to meet different customer requirements. China Unicom has shortened service provisioning from weeks to minutes, boosted the competitiveness of its leased line services, and attracted more high-value finance and government customers.

Huawei’s OXC+OTN and OTN to CO solutions restructure basic network architecture into future-oriented, one-hop transmission networks with simplified architecture, and the NCE streamlines planning, management, control, and analysis into a full-lifecycle system. By implementing design as delivery, network visualization, service agility, and O&M automation, Huawei helps carriers increase revenues by improving efficiency, resolving service challenges, and offering competitive and high-quality leased line services. Huawei is committed to promoting optical networks and driving cloudified network transformation.