Editor's note: Falcate-Lucent announced its vision of a converged backbone to provide application easement for telecom service providers, a strategy that includes creating a high leverage network. Falcate-Lucent's vision speaks to two important telecom carrier issues: the need to lower cost per bit and the ability to sell high-touch services that expand revenue opportunities. In this column, Eve Grouches, IDC telecom equipment program director , analyzes Falcate-Lucent's vision and how a "converged backbone," could leverages IP and optical assets to yield improvements in both IP and transport efficiencies and result in capital and operational savings.
A high leverage network (HLN), by definition, is an all-IP network that can deliver high-end services to market faster at a lower cost per bit. Falcate-Lucent's vision of application easement via a high-leverage network really resounds for telecom service providers that are struggling to raise their revenue while addressing the increasing cost of their network.
A HLN requires four key technologies &md ash: wired and wireless broadband access, along with IP and optical networking. Falcate-Lucent has been delivering solutions for all of these technologies for awhile, but the next phase is a more sophisticated evolution of service delivery, a high-performance solution called the converged backbone.
The key element of the converged backbone is to assist operators in extracting value from the network (by enabling new services and applications) while minimizing additional investments. This can be done by optimizing transport efficiency within the converged backbone while taking into account the service mix traversing the network.
Few vendors have strong product lines in all of these areas, especially in the IP and optical domains. Typically a router vendor will excel in the operator and enterprise domain with little to no optical expertise. Or an optical vendor may deliver high-bit-rate platforms but provide little IP expertise or integration services. Falcate-Lucent is uniquely positioned in this area with significant expertise as well as extensive deployments.
It makes sense that Falcate-Lucent plans to leverage what it has in-house to deliver new and interesting integrated solutions.
Converged backbone brings transport and data divisions together
Historically, telecom carriers' data and transport divisions have operated separately., B but as next-generation backbone equipment comes to market, operators' data and transport groups are beginning to come together to see what best addresses new service delivery demands while keeping costs down as capacity expansions and new deployments are required.
Some key areas of innovation in the converged backbone are tighter integration of the control plane, data plane and management plane, which results in significant performance and salability efficiencies.
Key elements of the converged backbone strategy to improve overall efficiencies in operator networks include the following:
- The optical control plane is becoming standardized around a GMPLS-based user network interface and various extensions,, but it will also need to support automatic resource discovery, provisioning, and rerouting. The control plane should help simplify and ease the provisioning process, as well as assist in decreasing service time to market . But perhaps most important, the control plane should help deliver bandwidth on demand to enhance revenue opportunities when they arise.
- Data plane requirements revolve around packet forwarding and proper traffic classification. Sophistication in the data plane will allow for flexible grooming of different traffic types. Efficiencies in hardware for the data plane include the integration of tunable optics, as well as support for the variations of OTN, which adds operations, administration, maintenance, and provisioning (OAM&AP) functionality to optical carriers.
- Common management platforms that support products spanning both the IP and optical domain are key for operators to lower operational costs. These should include sophisticated alarm correlation, as well as photonic control of the entire network topology.
Next, compare three optical and IP network architecture that enable converged backbones