Infinera has announced a new software defined capacity (SDC) solution called Instant Network that promises to reduce bandwidth provisioning time for transport networks from months to minutes.
Instant Network promises service providers the ability to activate SDC when revenue-generating services demand it, from existing services like Carrier Ethernet and cloud-based on-demand business services to emerging services like IoT, streaming video and eventually 5G mobile.
The name of the game is greater optical flexibility and agility to handle dynamic capacity demand, as well as reducing capex by diminishing idle optical network capacity and lowering business risk by shrinking the time between paying for capacity and activating services.
Infinera says that while the industry has made a lot of headway in deploying SDN to virtualize Layers 1-3 and enable flexible bandwidth-on-demand type services, the limitation is that those services are virtualized and controlled within a fixed amount of optical capacity with one or two wavelengths per card. Adding more capacity means planning, ordering, deploying and activating new line cards – which not only takes months, but also usually results in overprovisioning optical capacity by as much as 50%.
The Instant Network solution essentially leverages a number of Infinera solutions – including its Xceed and Digital Node Administrator (DNA) software, Infinite Capacity Engine and of course its Instant Bandwidth solution launched in 2012 – to automate optical capacity engineering and scale optical capacity in minutes
Instant Network amplifies the Instant Bandwidth solution by adding bandwidth license pools, moveable licenses and automated capacity engineering (ACE), and by extending SDC to new Infinera platforms that support flexible grid and sliceable 2.4 terabit super-channels powered by the Infinite Capacity Engine.
The bandwidth license pool functionality enables service providers to activate capacity at the same time as an invoice is issued for that capacity, reducing capital expenditures for idle capacity. That enables capacity to be deployed in minutes by eliminating the few hours service providers would normally need to buy a license before the capacity was software-activated.
The movable licenses feature enable service providers to use software to move bandwidth licenses across the network as traffic conditions change or fiber cuts occur, rather than fixing licenses to a specific line module or platform.
“Many vendors are trialing new software licensing models in the router/switch world, and my observation is that they have seen only limited success,” said Michael Howard, senior research analyst and advisor for carrier networks at IHS Markit. “In the optical transport world, Infinera seems to be the one vendor that has been quite successful in implementing software- based licensing and delivering on-demand, software defined capacity, with a large number of their customers actively deploying it today.”
The ACE application takes previously manual offline route and capacity planning processes and implements those algorithms in a microservices-based path computation element (PCE). ACE understands optical impairments and computes optimal Layer 0 routes between nodes across multiple paths, including automatic routing and wavelength assignment with multiple path constraints such as traffic engineering cost, distance and latency.
Infinera says its Instant Network capabilities are planned across the Infinera DNA software and the Xceed Software Suite. The bandwidth license pool and moveable licenses features are available now. ACE is planned for 2018.
Meanwhile, Infinera is positioning its Instant Network solution as a critical foundation for cognitive networking, which is where optical transport is ultimately heading. Cognitive optical transport networks will essentially leverage advanced analytics, machine learning from streams of network telemetry data, autonomous operation of routine tasks, predictive analysis of network problems before they occur and proactive recommendations for network optimization – all of which could further reduce opex and improve service reliability, Infinera says.