Infinera inches closer to cognitive networking
Monday, April 17, 2017 at 12:12PM
Roy Rubenstein in Geoff Bennett, Infinera, Instant Network, Software-defined networking, cognitive networks, instant bandwidth, machine learning, optical networking, photonic integrated circuit

Part 2: Infinera’s Instant Network

The second and final part as to how optical networking is becoming smarter

Infinera says it has made it easier for operators to deploy optical links to accommodate traffic growth.

The system vendor says its latest capability, known as Instant Network, also paves the way for autonomous networks that will predict traffic trends and enable capacity as required.

The latest announcement builds on Infinera’s existing Instant Bandwidth feature, introduced in 2012, that uses its photonic integrated circuit (PIC) technology.

Instant Bandwidth exploits the fact that all five 100-gigabit wavelengths of a line card hosting Infinera’s 500-gigabit PIC are lit even though an operator may only need a subset of the 100-gigabit wavelengths. Using Instant Bandwidth, extra capacity can be added to a link - until all five wavelengths are used - in a matter of hours.

The technology allows 100-gigabit wavelengths to be activated in minutes, says Geoff Bennett, director, solutions and technology at Infinera (pictured). It takes several hours due to the processing time for the operator to raise a purchasing order for the new capacity and get it signed off.

Instant Bandwidth has been enhanced since its introduction. Infinera has introduced its latest generation 2.4 terabit PIC which is also sliceable. With a sliceable PIC, individual wavelengths can be sent to different locations using reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexer (ROADM) technology within the network. 

Another feature added is time-based Instant Bandwidth. This allows an operator to add extra capacity without first raising a purchase order.  Paying for the extra capacity is dealt with at a later date. This feature has already benefited operators that have experienced a fibre cut and have used Instant Bandwidth to reroute traffic.

Infinera says over 70 of its customers use Instant Bandwidth. These include half of its long-haul customers, its top three submarine network customers and over 60 percent of its data centre interconnect players that use its Cloud Xpress and XTS products. Some of its data centre interconnect customers request boxes with all the licences already activated, says Bennett. 


The internet content providers are banging the drum for cognitive networking


Instant Network

Now, with the Instant Network announcement, Infinera has added a licence pool and moveable licences. The result is that an operator can add capacity in minutes rather than hours by using its pool of prepaid licenses.

Equally, if an operator wants to reroute a 100-gigabit or 200-gigabit wavelength to another destination, it can transfer the same licence from the original end-point to the new one. 

“They [operators] can activate capacity when the revenue-generating service asks for it,” says Bennett.            

Another element of Instant Network still to be introduced is the Automated Capacity Engineering that is part of Infinera’s Xceed software.


Source: Infinera

“Automated Capacity Engineering will be an application that runs on Xceed,” says Bennett. The Automated Capacity Engineering is an application running on the OpenDaylight open source software-defined networking (SDN) controller that takes advantage of plug-ins that Infinera has added to the Xceed platform such as multi-layer path computation and traffic monitoring.

Using this feature, the SDN orchestrator can request a 100 Gigabit Ethernet private line, for example. If there is insufficient capacity, the Automated Capacity Engineering app will calculate the most cost-effective path and install the necessary licences at the required locations, says Bennett.

“We think this is leading the way to cognitive networking,” he says. “We have the software foundation and the hardware foundation for this.”       


Networks that think

With a cognitive network, data from the network is monitored and fed to a machine learning algorithm to predict when capacity will be exhausted. New capacity can then be added in a timely accordingly.

Bennett says internet content providers, the likes of Google, Microsoft and Facebook, will all deploy such technology in their networks.

Being consumers of huge amounts of bandwidth, they will be the first adopters. Wholesale operators which also serve the internet content providers will likely follow. Traditional telecom operators with their more limited traffic growth will be the last to adopt such technology.

But cognitive networking is not yet ready. “The machine learning algorithms are still basic,” says Bennett. “But the biggest thing that is missing is the acceptance [of such technology] by network operations staff.” 

However, this is not an issue with the internet content providers. “They are banging the drum for cognitive networking,” says Bennett.   


Part 1: Ciena's Liquid Spectrum, click here

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