Posted by ECI Staff on 31 Dec 2013
It’s that time of the year again, when we look back at what transpired in the last year, reflect (not too much, really) on what could have been different, but mostly look forward to a new year of possibilities and promises.
Even though January 1st is really just another day, it’s human nature to look at a new year with hope and resolutions. We do that both in our private and professional lives, sometimes more, sometimes less successfully. But the idea is for us to do a bit of thinking ahead – leave to the side the day-to-day issues, and try to project forward how we see things turning out. That’s where this post comes in – the telecom sector in 2014 and beyond.
Grab some holiday popcorn and let me know what you think:
- SDN –Yes, I had to start the list with SDN. Yes, everyone is talking about SDN. Yes, it’s not new. But I believe we are just starting to explore the true potential of software-defined networks. For operators, SDN translates into network dynamicity and flexibility in terms of resources, both capex and opex. In practice, SDN separates the control plane from the data plane of network nodes, which brings programmability into several important areas, such as bandwidth-on-demand and bandwidth scheduling, workload balancing, and multi-tenancy. What has started in the data centers world is now looking for the right path into the transport world. Although there is still work ahead of us to establish and prove the value proposition and feasibility of SDN in the transport world, the future looks promising and for sure interesting.
- LTE – as with SDN, I could not possible not mention LTE and mobile data in general. After all, mobile is the key application driving transport network evolution. In fact, LTE and 4th generation sound like old news and we are going to hear more and more about “LTE Advanced” and about 5th generation. Which is somehow funny, as “advanced” refers to something that many still don’t know exactly what it is. With no intentions to spoil the party, I think it’s worthy to mention that operators do realize that the vast majority of the traffic on their networks now is still 3G and therefore the solutions that they are looking for should be cost-effective not only for the LTE traffic but also to the previous mobile generations.
- MPLS – MPLS is accelerating its penetration of the metro network. The debate between MPLS-TP and IP/MPLS as the preferred technology for the metro is still on, although most acknowledge that each technology has some clear advantages. The decision which to deploy should be based on a TCO analysis, taking into account application, topology, existing infrastructure, future plans and budget. You may be surprised with the results.
- Packet-Optical Convergence – Another one of those ‘items’ that have been around for a while. But it’s happening now. Why? Because otherwise carriers cannot offer the necessary services and make enough money in today’s competitive environment. Optical networks must extend their traditional roles to include better handling of Ethernet packet-based services, which today dominates telecom traffic. In fact, by combining the best of optical and Ethernet capabilities, carriers can enjoy a win-win scenario, with a better total cost-of-ownership. Like in other areas, packet-optical convergence has many flavors, from WDM systems with some packet support, through packet systems with some optical support and up to full-blown universal systems. As always, cost and location in the network will drive the right solution, which is not one size fits all.
- The G Factor – How much is enough capacity? Obviously not 10G, and not 40G. Is 100G enough? Then what? Do we go to 400G or 1T, or more? According to the IEEE, by 2015, expected capacity requirements will be 10X that of 2010, ie, 1 Terabit, and by 2020, 100X that of 2010, or 10 Terabits. So the question is not whether higher capacity at lower cost per bit can be done, but rather can it be done at the right cost? So the market will continue to advance all options in parallel, 400G and 1Terabit (remember the Tera Santa Consortium? Big news very soon…) Which brings me to …
- 100G Coherent Metro – 100G has been reserved to regional and long-haul networks, but we see it now expanding towards metro networks, as increasingly cost-efficient technologies are developed meeting the expected cost-performance expectations.
- Cyber-security – Given the world we live in, is it a surprise that this item is even here? Security is moving from the realms of firewalls and software and gaining importance at the hardware level. Exactly how this will look going forward, I am not sure yet, but maybe by December 2014 I will be able to shed some light here.
Meanwhile I wish everyone a great 2014!