The State of the Optical Industry is Strong
Take Aways from NGON 2017 in Nice
The other week’s annual trip to the south of France for the lucky few in the industry with travel budgets was, once again, a nice confirmation of the strength of the optical industry. While not as big as some of the major shows of the past, the attendees were informed, interested, and attentive. The optical industry is going through some significant changes, and it’s always useful to get together occasionally with colleagues and talk through some of the recent challenges and opportunities.
There were two simultaneous shows (Next Generation Optical Networking and Optical Data Center Interconnect) as well as an always-on show floor, so it was difficult to get to most of the presentations and panels. However, NGON is a very collegial show with a lot of time to interact, so the major themes usually make it out of the conference program and into the conversations held in many of Nice’s nicer eating establishments.
As with all optical shows recently, the concepts of software defined networks and openness were scattered throughout the presentations. The mood did not seem as dire as at BCE earlier this year, perhaps because many of the presentations in Nice were about vendor solutions as opposed to industry challenges. Generally, we all agree that the move to open networks is the right path. We’re all just struggling to determine which path will lead us where we need to go with the least amount of switchbacks and roadblocks.
5G loomed over many of the presentations, as the backhaul for 5G promises to be a unique challenge. The bandwidth requirements will help push more fiber to the towers, but the actual implementation – a variety of fronthaul options, RAN architectures, low-latency aggregation networks, and the like – is still hotly debated and discussed. Again, we all agree that these are good challenges to have for the optical industry. No one will argue against increased demand for optical bandwidth and new backhaul architectures.
OTN was surprisingly prevalent throughout the conference, with announcements and presentations ranging from large core OTN switches to odd little low-speed OTN suggestions. OTN is certainly an option for 5G networks, and recent announcements about OTN deployments in China have probably helped to spur increased interest. The popularity of OTN served to remind us in the industry that there are applications other than high-bandwidth, open line, data center interconnections. Despite the fact that those point-to-point DCI networks might not see much value in an OTN layer, there are many others who see great benefits in having a deterministic, time-domain based, low-latency, switchable technology that improves network efficiency for multi-service providers. The many OTN offerings in Nice certainly indicate that someone is specifying and buying OTN, and OTN looks to have a strong future in optical networking.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention that ECI was awarded the Best Test and Measurement Product of 2017, tying with Exfo. In the industry, we like to talk about how networks need to become more intelligent so that more information can be fed to controllers to enable intent-driven network control. ECI’s LightPULSE has put much of the intelligence that is normally associated with test equipment directly into the network elements, eliminating the need for external testing and enabling significantly more intelligent network decision making. We appreciate that the judges understood this new approach to Test and Measurement and awarded us accordingly. To read more about ECI’s LightPULSE as well as some of our other ultra-high capacity capabilities click here.
And the weather in Nice wasn’t bad either.
Topics: Optical Networking