The networking world is in a state of flux, with everything from long-haul submarine networks to LANs and WANs being transformed to accommodate unprecedented amounts of bandwidth-hungry traffic. Ethernet has emerged as a common denominator for all types of network architectures, due to its scalability, reliability and agility. It works with SONET in North America, SDH in the rest of the world, and easily traverses LANs and WANs with ease.
The prevalence of Ethernet, combined with the migration to packet-centric, Web-scale networks, is going to create some changes, according to a recent article from optical networking expert Ciena. The company envisions a future in which all traffic is packet-based, and native packet switches will commonly reside in cable landing stations.
It’s not a far-fetched idea, considering how quickly packet traffic is growing. Vertical Systems Group forecasts Ethernet business services will reach $57 billion this year, driven by the economies of Web-scale networking and standards like NBASE-T, which are bringing Multi-Gigabit-Ethernet speeds to the LAN. Vertical predicts that by the end of this year, more than 75 percent of all global bandwidth will be Ethernet based, which will clearly impact the submarine networking world.
As traffic consistently moves away from TDM to packet, operators are going to need versatility and creativity to handle the workload. An efficient way to handle the influx would be to replace their legacy SDH Interconnection Equipment (SIE) in cable landing stations with multi-terabit packet switches. These switches would support both connectionless Ethernet as well as connection-oriented MPLS-TP. Placing packet switches in submarine cable landing stations enables operators to use optical transport network (OTN) as well as native packet switching to handle a mix of TDM and increasingly packet-based traffic.
“In short, you get what you appreciated in the past with SDH over submarine networks albeit with the scalability, economies of scale, determinism, granularity, and data-centric functionality of packet-based networking,” wrote Brian Lavallee, senior director of portfolio marketing for Ciena packet and submarine networking solutions. “Have your cake and eat it too.”
What is clear is that Ethernet is pushing the entire networking realm toward packet-based services, and networks are transforming to meet the demand of Web-scale traffic. Installing packet switches in cable landing stations enables carriers and operators to meet the demands of the new packet-based model affordably and flexibly as they transition away from TDM and voice-centric solutions.
Edited by Alicia Young