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Mesh nets survive catastrophes

Posted: 16 Jul 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mesh networks? optical infrastructure? self-healing? intelligent control plane?

Zik: The rapid growth of high-speed services and the increasing dependency on networks for mission-critical applications are driving the need for self-healing and fully meshed networks.

Network globalization is a persistent strategic goal for carriers and network operators worldwide. In light of natural and man-made disasters, survivable optical networks are emerging as an essential business requirement to support the globalization of the world's major economies. Also, as new-generation, high-speed services proliferate demands on optical infrastructure are extending beyond traditional carrier-class reliability and ring-based architecture.

Smart mesh
The rapid growth of high-speed services and the increasing dependency on networks for mission-critical applications are driving the need for self-healing and fully meshed networks. And that type of network requires intelligence to make it aware of itself and its environment, incorporating the ability to react to any network event. To achieve this, reliability is paramountas is the ability to determine alternate paths around network issues automatically so that affected traffic is restored within milliseconds, vs. the hours, days or even weeks involved in manual restorations.

Mesh networks interconnect each node to several of its neighbors over multiple diverse connections, providing multiple routes for protection and restoration. They can handle multiple failures easily by provisioning restoration schemes that automatically reconfigure the network around service outages without requiring manual intervention.

Restoration is enabled by a self-aware distributed intelligent control plane that resides on the network elements themselves and makes routing decisions based on real-time information about network connectivity. Network elements interconnected with an intelligent control plane can learn from one another and extend automation beyond a single network element to the entire network. In other words, the intelligent control plane enables a network device to think for itself, and is the only practical technology to enable the creation of a fully automated meshed architecture.

In the case of a catastrophic event, the intelligent control plane automatically determines alternative paths around network issues so that affected traffic is restored within milliseconds, ensuring that the highest-priority traffic is restored first, despite multiple network failures. In addition, the control plane adds automated provisioning for numerous services. That enhances service velocity and time-to-revenue, as operators can address customer requests for increased speeds or new services on demand. Ultimately, mesh architectures have proved more resilient than traditional ring architectures in terrestrial networks, improving availability to six ninesa factor of 10.

The proven resiliency of terrestrial mesh networks has led operators of submarine networks to deploy mesh architectures in transatlantic, transpacific and regional submarine routes. To improve global resiliency, some carriers are combining both terrestrial and submarine mesh domains to create one large, resilient, mesh-based global network.

Additional carriers and enterprises worldwide should look to implement this same approach and evolve their networks toward global mesh architectures, based on intelligent control plane technology, in order to increase network automation, reduce costs and improve network survivability.

- James Zik
Senior Product Marketing Manager
Optical Transport Products
Ciena Corp.

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