Autumn 2017 Optical Connections Magazine


cloud engine), “data centre-centric” re- architecting and optimisation systems for the backbone, and the hardware resource pooling of wavelength and sub-wavelength resources. Alex Duan, Huawei general manager of WDM/OTN Domains, says: “When Alibaba wants bandwidth it wants it within 15 days, but it can take three months to build its own backbone networks instead.” So how does all this fit in with what a number of customers are saying about the need to disaggregate? Duan told Optical Connections News: “We’re not in favour of ‘white boxes’, we are a systems provider to enable the customer to improve services for users. With a disaggregated system you have potential extra power costs and you may need extra engineers to manage a more complicated system.” Not all operators of course are rushing towards piecemeal optical networks - including Colt - but a number clearly are. Colt was asked about its attitude towards disaggregation at NGON, and product manager for optical services Nigel Tromans said Colt was “probably less interested” [than others], and that it currently prefers end-to-end integrated systems for its operations. BRITISH TELECOM ANDMICROSOFT Kevin Smith, transmission futures and innovation at BT, says: “We’re for disaggregation, we have to introduce some level of competition among our suppliers with a mix-and-match approach at the

Alex Duan, Huawei general manager of WDM/OTN Domains, addressing attendees of NGON Europe 2017.

buying components and building a network, it’s the cost of running it too.” Smith concurs: “You need people to write the code and manage the dierent systems, to run them like DevOps.” It was clear at NGON that the type of optical architecture selected was dependent on the end user’s business and operational model. It is generally accepted that if you mainly use kit from a single vendor you will be more certain of the transport speeds and eciency you will get as a result. You may not however enjoy the business flexibility you desire, and you might pay more for that aforementioned certainty.

system level, it’s a fundamental driver for us. “How far do you go? Well, if you split everything you can cause complication, and we don’t want to cause panic among our system guys.” Brad Booth, principal engineer at Microsoft, says the firm takes both integrated and disaggregated systems. Booth says: “We don’t buy ‘white boxes’, we buy OEM switches still. But there may be certain features that we want that might not be available from a particular vendor, which is when disaggregation comes in. “But disaggregation is not just about


ISSUE 10 | Q3 2017

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