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Five Practical Automation Applications that Can Impact Your Network Today

Christain Uremovic

October 15, 2019
By Christian Uremovic
Director of Marketing

In a recent post, How Not to Fail at Network Automation, we talked about how to develop a step-by-step plan to successfully deploy network automation. While this is clearly the right path toward comprehensive network automation, individual network automation applications have been available for some time and are smoothly deployed in life networks. I call these types of automations “practical automations,” as they don’t disrupt current operational models and don’t require node upgrades, network element swaps, new interfaces, or a comprehensive SDN infrastructure.

Let’s take a closer look at these applications to see if they might work for you as well.

Capacity with a Click

For years, Infinera has offered customers the ability to pre-deploy capacity and software-activate it on demand. Called Instant Bandwidth, operators around the globe use this practical automation solution to improve their customer experience by offering seamless network upgrades. Double capacity with no truck rolls and no downtime! Network operators using Instant Bandwidth-enabled equipment also enjoy a competitive advantage as they can turn up new services more quickly and realize faster time to revenue. This is all thanks to our vertically integrated optical engine and photonic integration.

Autotuneable Optics

Autotuneable optics is another practical automation technology. It enables network operators to simply plug DWDM optics into aggregation and access nodes, and the system automatically tunes each of the optical signals to the appropriate wavelength. The result is a dramatic reduction in the number of truck rolls and the amount of effort, training, and equipment required to deploy high-capacity access and aggregation networks, as well as a simultaneous reduction in deployment and configuration errors.

Just as importantly, a 10 gigabits per second (10G) and eventually 25G autotuneable optical module can act as a transponder when plugged into a network router. This saves space, power, and costs as operators don’t have to deploy classic transponder chassis and new management licenses. As network operators migrate to new high-speed network architectures in access and aggregation networks, such as distributed access architecture (DAA) in cable networks and 5G in mobile networks, autotuneable optics will enable simple and efficient ways to bring the speed of optical networks to thousands of remote sites.

Autonomous Intelligent Transponders

With every new generation of optical technology comes more configuration options, or in layman’s terms, more knobs to turn, so that wavelengths can be optimized for performance and reach. Optical engineers and technicians can now independently adjust baud rates, modulations, forward error correction (FEC), constellation shaping, and even more. Software automation is becoming more important now to dynamically adjust and optimize transport capacity.

As demonstrated during a live field trial, Infinera’s autonomous intelligent transponder (AIT) utilizes the latest digital signal processing methods to enable automated and dynamic adjustment of coherent WDM interfaces. This radically improves operation and fiber utilization.

Multi-vendor Network Automation

As operators embrace disaggregated networks, new challenges arise as systems from different vendors are used to create a complete solution.  Operators can utilize Infinera’s standalone application, Aware, which collects and analyzes real-time data coming from the network. More than 30 parameters from transponders, amplifiers, and ROADMs are considered for optical performance analytics.

Aware precisely measures and calculates optical performance in real time and combines it with static input data from these individual components like transponders and amplifiers, helping operators significantly improve planning and performance analytics while also improving time to market and saving as much as 25% on CapEx. For more on Aware, download “Aware optical networks: Leaving the lab” in the IEEE Digital Library.

Automating Multi-Vendor Network Visualization

Visualization services is another category of practical automation that is mature and ready to help operators optimize their networks. In multi-vendor and multi-layer environments, inefficient older equipment can dramatically reduce the performance of a network. But how do you identify legacy equipment and the services that are utilizing that equipment without a massive time investment to inventory your entire network?

While older network elements don’t have proper management systems and may not provide user-friendly comprehensive network analysis tools, applications like Infinera’s Transcend Orchestrator can identify the equipment and services in a network by capturing data from various sources and then providing a visualization in multiple layers and categories, such as network synchronization.

With a complete network picture in hand, operators can quickly and systematically develop a plan for migration so that services can be switched over to more modern equipment. This dramatically lowers the costs, complexity, and time needed to migrate to more efficient and cost-effective equipment.

Things to Remember

Practical automation applications are ready to be applied today in small, bite-sized applications that have little or no impact on daily operations. These simple, effective automation applications have been tested and proven to solve real problems and address specific challenges to improve operations.