When initially introduced into the market, optical encryption was a niche application looking for a market. Optical encryption protects primarily against fiber tapping and traffic cloning, which were not viewed as widespread threats a few years ago. Optical encryption has some very definite benefits such as adding no latency and providing no information at all about the underlying services. Optical encryption made some headway with industries that were especially security conscious (financial and government), but not much further.
News reports in the last few years of a wide range of cyber-attacks and infrastructure compromises have made every industry more aware of security, and suddenly optical encryption has taken off throughout the telecommunications market. As a result, the price and availability of optical encryption engines have improved dramatically. The solutions are also much more flexible, enabling optical encryption to be added easily to existing networks and all types of services.
As a result, optical encryption can now be offered as a service in almost any optical network. Because optical encryption – at least the version provided by ECI’s Apollo™ system – is based on standard OTN framing, any signal types that can be encapsulated by OTN can be encrypted. This means that service providers can offer encrypted WAN, SAN, and TDM solutions to their end customers, and using standard OTN framing also means that encrypted signals can be carried over an existing OTN-based network without any adverse impact or required network upgrade.
In fact, the flexibility of today’s optical encryption hardware allows optical encryption as a service offerings to be possible in any network. These services can be offered not only by traditional service providers, but also by data center and internet exchange operators who wish to provide exceptionally secure connections to their infrastructure. And of course, today’s security conscious businesses are willing to pay for this benefit which translates into new revenue streams.
Analysis of the pricing for encrypted and unencrypted hardware and services shows that the ROI of a 10Gbps service offering can be improved by a month or more by including encryption as a service. For operators who decide to implement optical encryption on all services, the ROI for 10Gbps services can be nearly the same (within 1 month) while providing a service differentiator in the market at the same price as unencrypted services. New hardware such as ECI’s 200Gbps encrypted transponder/muxponder can encrypt individual services within a high speed link rather than tying the entire link to the encryption engine – allowing encryption as a service to be enabled on demand even on backbone connections.
This all adds up to a new market offering – optical encryption as a service – that can be deployed in nearly all optical networks to offer the ultimate in connectivity security to any end customer who is concerned about the integrity of their information. A concern that is increasingly shared by nearly all industries.