We announced today the addition of NetFusion to the Cisco SolutionsPlus Program (Press Release here). I’m very excited about the partnership with Cisco since I believe it will allow us to influence and enhance a key future integrated IP and optical architecture that Cisco just announced, called Routed Optical Networking (RON). Our focus around integrating IP and optical networks fully manifest itself in RON because this architecture really melds the two layers together into one integrated network, and such an integrated network needs an integrated management and control solution. But the value we provide is not limited to managing a Cisco only solution – RON domains will exist side by side with other vendor IP domains, and may run over non-Cisco optical gear, so our multi-layer and multi-vendor capabilities will be used quite a bit to create a unified view and operation for the service provider, irrespective of the domain and layer.
The PR talks about what we bring to the Cisco table in a lot more detail, so no point in me repeating it. Instead, I’d like to focus on a few areas in which our understanding the optical layer can help decision making at the IP layer, and therefore will make a RON network superior to a traditional IP + optical network thanks to NetFusion:
- Improved service resiliency by understanding all risks: routers today do not understand common risks between IP links that use the same optical (WDM) link. Even optical systems do not fully understand the shared risks of wavelengths they provide to the IP layer, since they don’t know which optical links go through the same fiber ducts and will be cut by the same backhoe. NetFusion understands all of this and creates an integrated view of risks. We then feed this information into the router control plane or use it by our own path computation engine. The result is IP services that can be more reliable than today’s transport services
- Ability to respect tight latency constraints: the need for low latency for some services is well known and one of the key promises of 5G. But how do you achieve low latency if you don’t know the real latency of links? Some people suggest measuring the latency of each IP link in the IP layer, but this will give you the latency including temporary queuing and processing delays, instead of the fundamental latency of going from point A to point B via fibers. The only way to understand the latter is to talk to the optical gear, which is natural for NetFusion, which does not stop at informing the IP control plane about the latency but orchestrates the creation of the service and ensures it will follow the short path – see here for more details.
- Using early warnings from the optical layer to benefit the IP layer: optical links do not always break fast. Sometimes, they gradually degrade until the receiving end does not understand enough bits to repair the packets. In such cases, the IP layer can redirect traffic away from these links without any service impact. But here again, you need to talk to the optical layer and then figure out how much time you have to move services in the IP layer in an orderly fashion. Again, a natural fit for NetFusion (in fact, we demoed this capability at MWC – when there still was MWC – see here).
The beauty of the solution is that it’s open and mostly standardized: it leverages the leading architecture for SDN control (See here), which is based on domain controllers and a hierarchical controller (which is the role NetFusion plays).
Stay tuned for more…