Sunday, October 14, 2012

Blueprint Column: P-OTS... Lessons Learned

By Jimmy Mizrahi

When P-OTS, or packet-optical transport systems, hit the market a few years ago, they brought with them a host of promises for more efficient and cost-effective next-generation transport. The systems were developed to address the increasing share of data and video traffic that’s consuming network bandwidth and capacity and eating away at operators’ profits. Through the integrated packaging of network layers, P-OTS aimed to bring down the cost per bit and reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) enough to make these rich media services profitable and viable. But P-OTS never managed to deliver on its full potential due to poor execution and unique challenges faced by operators. Fortunately, though, P-OTS taught us all some valuable lessons which are being used to shape the roadmap for a new approach to “beyond next-generation (NG)” transport. 

The Lessons of P-OTS

There are many P-OTS solutions available in the marketplace today, and these platforms utilize a wide variety of architectures and concepts. But none of them quite fit the requirements for true NG transport. Here’s why…  First and foremost, these systems do not provide a real converged solution because they lack full CESR capabilities; in order to support advanced data services, another system must be installed alongside the P-OTS. Next, multiple management systems are needed to support all network layers; this results in higher opex as the technical staff must provision multiple systems rather than a unified system, and there is a greater chance to introduce errors as well. And finally, P-OTS involve a high cost of entry when only part of the solution may be required initially. The reason for these shortcomings is that P-OTS platforms are usually repurposed from vendors’ existing optical or data portfolios and, as a result, they come with inherent compromises. These limitations often lead to higher entry costs, stranded assets, decreased cost efficiency and inefficient OAM – some of the very things that P-OTS endeavored to alleviate.

While P-OTS may have fallen short of delivering on its promises of cost savings and operational simplicity, it did prove to be a step in the right direction conceptually, particularly in the areas of packaging efficiency, multi-layer integration and convergence. Experiences with early P-OTS implementations have provided valuable insight into what a modern telecoms network should look like.

A Roadmap for NG Transport

While P-OTS had some shortcomings, it was a good temporary solution that helped to shape the roadmap for what’s really needed in networks today.

Support for the exponential growth of bandwidth

The amount of data and multimedia traffic that’s traversed networks in recent years has been unparalleled, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. To effectively deal with the rapid growth of bandwidth, a true convergence of network layers is essential.

Reduction in infrastructure costs

Operators don’t want to pay for functionality they’re not using or might never use. To reduce the cost of building and operating networks, a modular and flexible system design is required to provide a low entry cost and pay-as-you-grow scalability for added functionality. 

Alleviation of revenue pressure

Multiple networks mean higher capex and opex and lower revenue per bit. To restore operators’ profitability, Layer 0-3 functionality must be integrated in a single platform to optimize the whole (multi-layered) architecture instead of the individual parts (layers). 

Acceleration of service delivery 

These days, new services have to be turned up more quickly than ever. And existing services need to be easily maintained for maximum efficiency. To simplify and accelerate the introduction and maintenance of new services, a single management system for all network layers is needed to automate the process and save work.

Only a fully integrated multi-layer transport solution can satisfy these roadmap goals and beyond. That solution is the Optimized Multi-Layer Transport (OMLT) platform. 

The OMLT, the First Beyond NG Transport Solution

A highly unique and innovative new breed of transport solution, the OMLT, or Optimized Multi-Layer Transport platform, targets the shortcomings of today’s P-OTS to address operators’ needs and challenges as they introduce new services in a timely and cost-effective way. This “beyond NG” transport solution does this by: 

  • Focusing on the true convergence of the optical and packet layers to reduce the cost of building and operating networks
  • Integrating Layer 0 to Layer 3 functionality in a single platform, making possible the reduction of CAPEX, OPEX and cost per bit 
  • Providing a modular and flexible system design that enables a low entry cost and pay-as-you-grow scalability for added functionality
  • Presenting a single management system for all network layers, allowing new services to be introduced quickly and maintained easily

The fully integrated, multi-layer OMLT addresses operators’ pain points by eliminating integration costs, streamlining procedures and training, reducing network elements and lowering power requirements – with the ultimate goal of reducing TCO, decreasing the cost per bit and making services more profitable. 

Unified Multi-Layer, Multi-System Management

Not only does the OMLT simplify and streamline networks from an architectural perspective, it also does so from a management point of view. Until now, the optical and packet layers had to be configured and managed via several different systems. This was, clearly, a manual and laborious process which held great potential for error, especially when configuring numerous network elements, cards and wavelengths. The OMLT changes all that. 

In contrast to the multiple management systems that were required in the past, the OMLT utilizes a single, unified management system that provides an integrated view across layers, enabling services and the underlying network to be provisioned, managed and tracked end to end. Now, operators can get multiple physical and logical views, making visualization of the connection and correlation between different network layers possible. 

In addition to the unified management system, the OMLT includes a sophisticated planning tool that brings plug-and-play convenience to the planning process, for both equipment and traffic. Whether for greenfield or brownfield installations, the planning tool enables two-way interaction with the management system via an XML (extensible markup language) file that contains configuration information for all network elements, cards, modules and optical attributes, as illustrated here:


This level of optimized, unified network management and plug-and-play planning can save a tremendous amount of time and bring to bear a number of benefits including opex savings, a more efficient use of staff, shorter learning curves and fewer errors.  

Conclusion

While P-OTS failed to deliver on all the promises of operational efficiencies and capex savings, it did provide some valuable lessons learned that shaped a roadmap for the future of next-generation transport networking. That future is the OMLT – a beyond NG transport solution that brings the best of the optical and packet worlds under one platform without compromising on cost or functionality.

About the Author

Jimmy Mizrahi leads the product management team for the NG packet-optical product lines at ECI Telecom. Prior to this role, he worked in Strategic Marketing at ECI, specializing in alternative carrier applications for utilities and cable operators worldwide. Before joining ECI, Jimmy held positions at Tadiran Telecom and Enavis Networks, where he designed network solutions for global and cellular applications. He has 10 years of experience in the telecoms market in the areas of product management, product marketing, strategic marketing and business planning. Jimmy holds a BA in Electrical Engineering from Tel Aviv University.


ECI Telecom delivers innovative communications platforms to carriers and service providers worldwide. ECI provides efficient platforms and solutions that enable customers to rapidly deploy cost-effective, revenue-generating services. Founded in 1961, Israel-based ECI has consistently delivered customer-focused networking solutions to the world’s largest carriers. The Company is also a market leader in many emerging markets and has focused solutions for utilities. ECI provides scalable broadband access, transport and data networking infrastructure that provides the foundation for the communications of tomorrow, including next-generation voice, IPTV, mobility and other business solutions.


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