Manufacturers continue to find novel ways of helping carriers operate their networks more efficiently, as news today from Infinera illustrates. The optical networking company launched what it is calling Infinera Instant Network, which as Infinera executive Mark Showalter explained, gives carriers the ability to “activate capacity before they pay for it, match cost to revenue, and accelerate service delivery.”

The capability builds on software defined capacity, which lets network operators pay for network capacity only when it is needed. For example, equipment might support speeds of up to 400 Gbps per line card but operators would pay for capacity only as it is activated. Infinera previously used software defined capacity to support the company’s Instant Bandwidth capability launched several years ago.

Instant Bandwidth enables network operators to deposit money into a license store and drop or add capacity as needed on the Infinera optical equipment installed in their network. About half of Infinera’s long-haul customers use the capability today, Showalter said.

New Capabilities for Software Defined Capacity
Infinera’s latest generation equipment supports speeds up to 2.4 Tbps per line card and Infinera Instant Network adds three new capabilities to software defined capacity. These include:

  • Bandwidth license pools, which enable service providers to activate capacity at the same time an invoice is issued for that capacity, reducing capital expenditures for idle capacity.
  • Moveable licenses, which enable service providers to use software to move bandwidth licenses across the network as traffic conditions change or fiber cuts occur. “They can move both ends or just one end,” Showalter explained.
software defined capacity

Instant Network Bandwidth Example (Source: Infinera)

  • Automated capacity engineering (ACE), scheduled to launch in 2018, aims to automate previously manual offline route and capacity planning processes and to use algorithms to determine where capacity should be moved or implemented.

Application programming interfaces (APIs) will enable service orders to pass from operations support systems to the ACE system, which if necessary, “will issue a license on the most efficient route, looking at multiple paths,” explained Showalter. Tasks “usually done with humans, spreadsheets and tools” will instead be automated, he said.

Moving forward, Infinera envisions an even higher level of automation in carriers’ optical networks. “We’re seeing smart network elements stream data and a shift from networks asking for help to being able to maintain themselves and prescribe activities to get around whatever trouble they’re predicting,” Showalter said.