Native is Beautiful
Posted by Gil Epshtein on 27 Jul 2010
Beauty is a subjective matter.
Still, there is common agreement that as much as it is possible, native is beautiful, healthier and, of course, simpler. And although bits and bytes may be faceless, their impact on capex and opex can be viewed in much the same manner.
The issue then is this: how should different types of traffic (TDM and Ethernet) be handled and carried over transport links in an era of transition?
It’s quite clear that in cases where multiple technologies are involved (which, to some extent, is common in nearly every segment of the network), there are two options available. The first is to select one technology and carry all other technologies over it using the required adaptation techniques. The second takes the approach of carrying each technology over a separate network, thereby avoiding any technical challenges that may be presented by the first option.
While it may seem obvious that the first option provides a ‘neat’ and somewhat simpler solution, deeper analysis may prove otherwise – especially when the second option is offered with just a single network element. Although a converged infrastructure may offer a simpler concept, it can also bring new challenges that complicate the ‘ideal’ picture. Take, for example, the case of voice services in mobile networks. Here, the issue is synchronization. A must-have feature that’s embedded within the legacy infrastructure, synchronization is lacking in the new converged infrastructure. This makes it necessary for additional complicated protocols to be implemented on top of the ‘simple’ architecture.
Native handling has the advantages of simplicity and cost effectiveness. Complicated encapsulation schemes and priority protocols are not involved. And there’s no unnecessary overhead. What’s more, when supported within the same piece of equipment and by a single network management system, the burden of multiple devices is removed. Ultimately, cost effectiveness is measured by the bottom line, and the different alternatives should be measured in light of this. Calculations should take into account not only the cost of the equipment, but also whether past investments (existing infrastructure) can be preserved, the impact to network structure and operating procedures, and ease of use – in other words, the total cost of ownership (TCO).
So what about the promise of converged infrastructure…is it false? Not at all. It’s certainly the future and, in some cases, the present. The critical factor is the dosing, or the ratio of traffic that is handled natively to the traffic that is handled using encapsulation and synchronization schemes. As in life, a touch of makeup can indeed improve the native look. However, if massive makeup is required, we might rethink the concept and stick to the native look until only a reasonable amount of makeup is needed.