When it comes to examples of aiming high and failing on a grand scale, systems that combine layers 0 to 3 in one solution (a.k.a. God Boxes), are among the first examples that come to mind. However, whether due to lack of Packet features, missing price points or organizational hurdles, they came and went. And I know that as a vendor one should be very careful to not leave the impression that you are actually trying to build one (again).
But the concept is still intriguing…
Since rolling out backbone networks has mostly become a case of delivering more capacity at a lower price, the action is moving to the Metro networks side. New services are being created, legacy systems have to be phased out and an increasing number of Service Providers are walking away from running separate Transport and Packet teams. All services meeting at the network edge have to be aggregated and moved to the backbone. More focus is put on simplifying delivery to save resources, and ‘efficient forwarding’ is the way forward.
It’s fair to say that all of the above looks like an ideal application for something like a God Box. You take DWDM for capacity transport, OTN for efficiency and resiliency, a combination of Layer 2 and necessary Layer 3 features for service delivery, and you have ‘an all in one’ solution addressing many potential applications. And if you add NFV to the mix - the whole system is transformed to a different level. Orchestrators and service oriented apps simplify operations to an extent that one of the biggest hurdles of managing multi-functional systems virtually disappears.
Dream on, I hear you say… the systems will be too expensive! Too complex! And will always lack the one feature that would make them a winner.
And what about disaggregation, isn’t that exactly the opposite direction? So why go backwards when the future is looking so simple and bright? Well, the major reasons why God Boxes failed was the organizational hurdles on the customer side and too high ambitions of some vendors.
But with merged teams and realistic applications, multi-layer solutions can bring huge value to future networks. In a recent survey, IHS predicted P-OTS business growth in factors 2 to 6 (depending on the part of the network) by 2018. “The top 3 reasons: metro packet aggregation, IP transport such as uni/multicast in metro, and mobile backhaul all have to do with aggregating traffic in a metro network.”
As much as disaggregation is a good solution for connecting Data Centers, so are intelligent metro systems the right answer for sites where more than one job needs to get done efficiently. Combining the right amount of features into one node saves power, space and reduces operational complexity, since management tools are now at the required level. The idea of disaggregation teaches us to focus on the necessary rather than the optimum, applying this very concept to sophisticated systems enables service providers to build the most efficient networks ever.
If you want to learn more about smart, elastic Packet Optical networking for your company, download our free Apollo and Neptune brochures for more information.