Infinera promises flexible software-based bandwidth allocation with Instant Network feature, sets cognitive networking path

Service providers can activate software-defined capacity on demand, reducing capital expenditures and lowering business risk.

LOS ANGELES—Infinera wants to turn the traditional way service providers purchase hardware and software on its head with its Instant Network concept, providing automated software-defined capacity (SDC) for network service activation.

Service providers can activate SDC when revenue-generating services demand it, reducing capital expenditures by diminishing idle optical network capacity and lowering business risk by shrinking the time between paying for capacity and activating revenue-generating services.

Additionally, Instant Network enables service providers to accelerate service delivery and lower operational expenditures by automating optical capacity engineering and by reducing truck rolls to install additional hardware.

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Reducing capacity upgrades is a major element of this new feature. While the advent of SDN has been positive, most of the advancements have focused on virtualizing and controlling Layer 1/2/3 services inside a fixed amount of optical capacity. However, increasing optical capacity on conventional hardware-based transport systems can take months between forecasting and activating the optical capacity needed to deliver new services, which drives service providers to overprovision optical capacity by as much as 50% to ensure service delivery.

Infinera said that Instant Network enables service providers to automate optical capacity engineering and scale optical capacity in minutes by using Infinera’s Xceed and Digital Node Administrator (DNA) software. As a result, service providers can match capacity deployment to the activation of revenue-generating services and eliminate multiple planning and provisioning steps.

While Instant Network is new, it builds on the vendor’s previous Instant Bandwidth concept, providing the foundation required to deliver cognitive networking. Infinera introduced Instant Bandwidth in 2012, enabling software activation of service-ready optical capacity in a few hours on networks powered by the DTN-X platform and equipped with Infinera’s photonic integrated circuits (PICs).

Later in 2015, Infinera introduced time-based Instant Bandwidth, enabling software activation of bandwidth licenses for a limited duration. Over 70 of Infinera’s customers use Instant Bandwidth, including half of DTN-X XTC customers, the top three subsea customers and over 60% of data center interconnect customers.

Mark Showalter, senior director of software and SDN product marketing and senior director of corporate marketing at Infinera, told FierceTelecom that cognitive networking matches the internal transport network.

“Initially, Instant Bandwidth was only supported on our DTN-X platform with a 500G PIC,” Showalter said. “If the operator decided they only need 200G, they got the 200G licensed and would only pay market price for 200G.”

Shortening provisioning time is a key element of Instant Bandwidth. The Instant Network feature can shorten the time from hours to minutes.  

“In the Instant Bandwidth model, the licenses would stick to the hardware and you can’t move the licenses around,” Showalter said. “With Instant Network we’re going to do two things better: Service providers can activate the licenses and pay for it and we have shortened the activation time.”

Under the new concept, Infinera will implement a pool of bandwidth licenses. Using software, Infinera sets up a bandwidth licensing pool for each customer.

“We configure a whole set of licenses for them: instant bandwidth, time-based instant bandwidth and movable bandwidth,” Showalter said. “Those customers can activate that license and once that capacity is activated on the network then the invoice is generated.”

Time-based bandwidth

Enhancing network redundancy is another benefit of Instant Network. The concept can also be used to allocate bandwidth to different routes in the event of a fiber cut.

A service provider could purchase a specific bandwidth for a specific amount of time. At the end of a particular period, the bandwidth would simply go away.

Already, Infinera’s customers are seeing the advantage of the Instant Network’s time-based feature. Australia-Japan Cable, a subsea cable provider, operates a network between Australia and Japan using Infinera and another optical equipment provider’s gear. While Japan Cable has no issues with the other optical vendor’s equipment, the service provider had a cut on the opposite network segment, so they needed to roll the traffic on that segment onto the Infinera link.

instant bandwidth (Infinera)

“Australia-Japan Cable were able to use time-based instant bandwidth to activate a total of 400G capacity for a period of months,” Showalter said. “The service provider moved the traffic over from the cut fiber and once the fiber was repaired they rolled the services back over.”

Future capabilities coming

Infinera Instant Network capabilities are planned across the Infinera DNA software and the Xceed Software Suite. The Instant Network bandwidth license pool and movable licenses are available now. Movable licenses allow service providers to move bandwidth onto different pieces of hardware as long as there’s a PIC or Infinite Capacity engine.

One of the upcoming innovations of Instant Network is the Automated Capacity Engineering (ACE) application, which takes previously manual offline route and capacity-planning processes and implements those algorithms in a microservices-based path computation element. ACE understands optical impairments and computes 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. Set to debut in 2018, ACE will run on Infinera’s Xceed software controller.

When a customer places a 100G Ethernet Private Line, the order will flow into the service orchestrator and flows through an application performance interface (API) to ACE. In this case, the ACE application would use MEF 55 standard life cycle orchestration APIs.

“Infinera has a team of network planners whose job it to help with RFP responses and have developed a set of tools, but it’s all human-to-machine interfaces,” Showalter said. “We are letting service providers use the intelligence in that application to plan the route across the network without using a bunch of spreadsheets.”

All of these features play into the emerging cognitive networking concept, which includes 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 to reduce operational expense and improve service reliability.

“The increase in the amount in the data that we’re seeing from the network elements and the ability to use advanced analytics back at a host site, we see as accelerating a circle of innovation,” Showalter said. “This enables networks to stop waiting for commands, but start to do things on their own, predict based on the data they collected and prescribe recommendations to optimize around those.”