How SANET Created a Different Kind of Network Backbone: A discussion between Marian Ďurkovič, SANET and Geoff Bennett, Infinera
Marian Ďurkovič is the network architect for the Slovak Republic’s National Education and Research Network, SANET. Last year SANET selected Infinera during a public tender for a new network backbone, and Marian is now taking full advantage of the capabilities of the Infinera Cloud Xpress platform to create a new and highly cost-effective backbone architecture. Here Geoff Bennett, Director of Solutions and Technology at Infinera, interviews Marian about this novel network architecture.
Geoff Bennett: Marian, welcome to the Infinera Blog. Just to set the scene perhaps I can summarize for our readers that SANET has recently deployed a national research and education transport network backbone across the Slovak Republic. Here’s a diagram of that network, which has seventeen 100 gigabit per second (100G) point of presence (PoP) locations, and supports packet-based services for the academic and research community in the Slovak Republic. The reason that I wanted to talk to you about this network is that it uses a rather innovative combination of technologies, and I’d like to ask you to explain why it is so unique.
Marian Ďurkovič: Yes, I think it is really quite unique. So what we did was to take a step back from a typical transport network architecture, which I think we can characterize as having dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM), optical transport network (OTN) and packet layers, and ask how much of this traditional set of technologies do we really need. After all, the distances for each hop are not very far, and we can define the set of services we support as packet-based. So this avoids the need to support legacy time-division multiplexing (TDM) service types, and gives us the opportunity to optimize the functionality.
Geoff Bennett: Excellent – so what does this architecture actually look like? (more…)
Director of Solutions and Technology
As a confirmed technogeek, I was delighted when my recent purchase arrived this week – the Samsung Gear virtual reality (VR) headset, which uses the Oculus VR technology recently acquired by Facebook.
These headsets have really dropped in price recently, and part of the reason they’re such a good value is that they use one’s existing Samsung phone as the screen – combining it with good stereo optics and high-resolution, low-latency accelerometers built into the headset. While the resolution of high-end phone screens is great for everyday use, the VR headset has to share the phone screen resolution between both eyes, which means I occasionally notice individual pixels. But I quickly discounted that as the 3D VR experience drew me in, and within minutes of starting to use the VR headset I was totally immersed in travel photos and 3D movies.
The experience made me realize that an entry-level device like this one foreshadows the enormous potential of VR technology. A great illustration of these trends was used in a presentation at the recent Next Generation Optical Networking (NGON) conference by Steve Grubb, PhD, a senior network architect at Facebook. I was much impressed by Steve’s description of the new Oculus VR technology that is projected to one day deliver 4K or even higher resolution. Now that I’ve seen the power of what I consider low-definition VR, the idea of ultra-high-definition, pixel-free VR piped into each eye, with 360 degree video data synchronized to head movement, is truly exciting. More importantly from the network operator perspective, imagine the impact on network bandwidth that this level of resolution will demand, since many of these VR experiences are streamed rather than downloaded and run locally.
This is yet another answer to the perennial question of “why would anyone ever need more than X megabits per second of bandwidth?” (in which X moves up quite a bit every year). In fact, an immersive, 4K VR experience would make a big dent in a 1 gigabit per second (1G) feed. (more…)
Principal Product Marketing Manager
For the past few years hyperscale Internet content providers (ICPs) have been attracting attention because the global network investments they are making to interconnect their data centers are outpacing investments being made by traditional service providers. Once again in 2015, ICP investments in data center interconnect (DCI) grew fastest, more than doubling the growth rate of every other segment, according to Ovum’s recently published Market Share Report: 4Q15 and 2015 Data Center Interconnect (DCI). The ICP segment is now 34% of the global DCI market, and over 50% of the largest market, North America.
It should come as no surprise that competition to serve this large and fast-growing market is fierce. But perhaps some observers might be surprised to learn that Infinera has not only maintained its strong lead in the market, which it first gained in early 2014, it has increased that lead dramatically. Per Ovum, Infinera finished 2015 with a 29% share of the ICP DCI market, 8.5% higher than a year earlier and 10% higher than the nearest competitor.
How has Infinera been able to grow DCI share so dramatically among ICPs? (more…)
According to emarketer.com, it is estimated that in 2015 there were over 60 million Internet users in Mexico, which represents about a 50% penetration rate. Compared to other countries this rate is low, but according to eMarketer, Mexico’s Internet adoption rate is rapidly growing with a 9.4% year-over-year expansion in 2015. The resulting upward trend in bandwidth consumption, combined with the increase from bandwidth hungry applications, is creating capacity constraints in many of Mexico’s largest cities.
To solve the challenge of continuous growth in bandwidth demand, service providers delivering mobile and fixed-line services to Mexico’s metropolitan areas have a real and urgent need for scalable information and communications technology (ICT). Infinera’s Intelligent Transport Networks have been proven to provide the scalable network bandwidth service providers need when confronted with rapid growth in demand.
To demonstrate the benefits of Infinera’s end-to-end packet-optical solutions for service providers in Mexico, we recently showcased our Infinera Express, the technologically advanced mobile innovation lab, to more than 400 customers and prospective customers. (more…)
Reducing Cost and Latency in Ring-based Multi-Layer Networks (AKA Lessons Learned on the Circle Line)
In the London rail system, there is a line called the Circle Line that ferries riders past many famous tube stops in central London – Victoria Station, Paddington, etc. On my last trip to London, I got on the train going the wrong direction. So instead of only needing to transit eight or so stops, I ended up going the other way around the ring, going through 15 or so stops, resulting in a considerable delay, not to mention the stress and anxiety that went along with knowing I might miss my flight home.
In transit systems, it’s a well-known fact that in general you want to avoid as many transit stops as possible – in air travel that means direct flights are preferred over multi-hop flights with layovers, and for the Circle Line, it sure would be great if they had rails that could cut across the ring to create shortcuts. Imagine the savings in total travel time that would come from eliminating transit point delays (where passengers get on and off) as well as potentially reducing actual time in motion. From a passenger’s perspective, an ideal transit system would always provide a single hop to one’s final destination. This would reduce the size of the railcars needed, because each one could be sized for the number of people going from station A to station Z, but the cost of realizing such a vision on the Circle Line is clearly impractical and cost-prohibitive never mind the fact that it would be extremely challenging to engineer. So, instead, we live with the current model of a large-capacity train, sized to accommodate passengers getting on and off at various stations, enduring the “cost” of going through each station en route.
In many ways, multi-layer ring-based Internet protocol (IP)/optical networks have similar challenges. If we consider a physical fiber-based ring that interconnects multiple cities, and the variable/bursty traffic demands that might go between any two cities, it makes sense to deploy IP routers at each location. These routers not only terminate services or traffic at these sites, but also act as intermediate transit nodes for traffic that is just passing through. This works well for up to several nodes, but starts to become inefficient as the percentage of transit traffic at a router site becomes too large, proportionally to the add/drop traffic. At some point, creating a partial mesh topology becomes highly desirable for diversity as well as traffic optimization reasons. But that’s a topic for another day. For this discussion, let’s consider a fixed physical fiber ring, because many fiber rings with 10 or fewer sites exist today, and an assumption of traffic following a general “anywhere-to-anywhere” pattern with a mix of small and large flows.
There are multiple options for building such a fiber ring-based network. The simplest way is to deploy routers and use static point-to-point wavelengths (via wavelength-division multiplexed or WDM optics) between each pair of neighboring nodes, very much like the Circle Line model. While simple to engineer, this method incurs a high proportion of transit traffic at each router location, and is typically the most expensive to scale. From a multi-layer networking perspective, it is a somewhat rudimentary approach that does not provide network operators with ways to optimize the optical transport layer. As such, let’s look at three multi-layer options that leverage a flexible optical transport layer:
- Option 1: routers and wavelength-granular switching using WDM/reconfigurable add-drop multiplexers (ROADMs)
- Option 2: routers and optical transport network (OTN) switching (WDM/OTN)
- Option 3: routers and packet-aware OTN switching (WDM/P-OTN)