Network technology is evolving and at a certain point the old needs to go and the new needs to be embraced. This is the case with TDM networking technologies, which are rapidly becoming obsolete and need to be replaced with modern approaches. Network operators are shifting to packet-based technologies to gain efficiency, versatility, and the ability to meet a wide range of current and future networking needs.
Timeline (News - Alert) for Modernization
The communications networking industry has been well-served by TDM and the protocols supporting it, such as SONET, SDH and PDH. But, as with any aging technology, spare parts are hard to obtain, legacy control software is difficult to upgrade and, much-needed technical expertise is in short supply.
While modernization is necessary, it can’t be achieved overnight. Ripping out the old equipment and replacing it with packet-based technology is not an option. And, running parallel TDM and packet networks is costly, complex, and unrealistic. Network operators need solutions and tools that can support both legacy and packet technologies now and for as long as needed, allowing a seamless change-over to packets when the time is appropriate.
Three Industry Examples
Telecom service providers as well as investor-owned (IO) utilities and government agencies operate legacy TDM systems that require modernization.
Telecommunications service providers, for example, operate many TDM networks for switched voice, video, and data and private-line services, even though they are also using packet networks to offer IP and Ethernet services. These operators need to migrate their TDM customers to packet-based solutions that can support a full range of services from broadband to voice, including cloud-computing, virtualized managed services, and data center interconnects.
IO utilities have used TDM technologies for years to monitor and control the grid. They use modern packet networks, along with automation and adaptive networking capabilities, to minimize power line failures, isolate faults, and prevent cascading outages. From a business’s perspective,
utilities will use the packet network internally to improve their Information Technology (IT) services.
State, county, and municipal governments have ecosystems of disparate TDM systems and they want to consolidate services on modern, high-performing enterprise-wide networks connecting all entities to data centers and cloud services. They will also use the packet network to support a broad range of smart city, intelligent transportation, public safety, and other future-oriented applications. Many governments also want to build state-wide, multi-town or community packet networks, using the same Ethernet and MPLS infrastructure commercial operators use.
More than an Upgrade: Modernize and Evolutionize
Network operators need to migrate to packets in the near-term, but a strategic deployment will have a longer-term goal: creating an advanced packet network that can manage and deliver advanced services, especially virtualized services, to customers now and in the future.
A future-oriented network will not only carry TDM traffic over packets, it should provide a packet optical foundation, and Ethernet and MPLS switching capabilities. Plus, it will need to support advanced segment routing and traffic engineering techniques that optimize traffic and facilitate use of software-defined networking. These critical features will enable operators to support the market demand for gigabit-broadband connections and provide software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs), virtualized managed services, Ethernet virtual private networks (EVPNs) and other high-value solutions to enterprise customers. A modern network foundation will make it easier for the operator to create, provision, spin up and manage services and resources. It should also enable operators to evolutionize the network by adding automation features and analytics that make their systems dynamic and adaptive to change.
Converged Networking to Streamline Modernization
A common infrastructure that spans from access at the edge of the network to aggregation, metro, and core sites is the best approach. A converged network avoids the need to deploy overlays, enabling various types of TDM traffic to run over a common packet network. Convergence (News - Alert) also allows an operator to interconnect packet networks, so they can seamlessly interconnect Ethernet traffic to the MPLS network without requiring additional physical components.
At the edge of the network, operators can use pseudowire (PWE) emulation and circuit emulation technologies, deployed with Ciena’s TDM Small Form-Factor Pluggables (SFPs) or TDM service modules, to carry TDM business traffic on packet infrastructure that can also be used to virtualize services.
At aggregation and metro sites, operators can use the Ciena 6500 Packet Transport System (PTS) to enable TDM-to-packets migration and also offer IP and Ethernet services. The platform supports numerous TDM-to-packets applications: It can replace Digital Access Cross-connect System (DACS) and Multiservice Provisioning Platforms (MSPPs) equipment; consolidate ADM optical rings; provide a gateway between TDM and MPLS domains; enable packet switching and Ethernet transport services; and deliver high-quality carrier-grade services on a next-generation packet-optical network.
Network Operators are under pressure to evolve from TDM-to-packets. They are looking for solutions that can accommodate legacy services while providing a packet networking foundation that will support their most ambitious service requirements for many years to come. Turning to a common, future-oriented packet network that simplifies the network as well as the technology migration puts network operators on the path to a modern network.
Edited by Maurice Nagle