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Tags: Access and Aggregation, Mobile and 5G, Optical
November 12, 2019

Music and Networking: Highlights from NANOG 77 in Austin

By Bill Kautz
Director of Analyst Relations & Market Intelligence


Last week I attended the North American Network Operators Group’s NANOG 77 in Austin, Texas. As you may be aware, Austin is known as the city of live music. I thought that this was a very fitting location for an event focused on networking where there is also such creative energy, sometimes contradictory forces for change, and business case pressures (at least for some), and where live performance is the mandate.

There were many interesting presentations, too many to discuss in detail, but I will highlight a few examples below.

“DNS Wars: Episode IV, A New Bypass”: In this presentation Dr. Paul Vixie, CEO of Farsight Security, Inc., discussed DNS and the new DNS over HTTP, or “DoH,” protocol. Given Domain Name Servers’ function as control points that are so central to the internet, there has been a focus on various innovations in this area. As with many things, this presentation highlighted that a fix for some may have unwanted consequences for others, and that sometimes innovation and openness can be at odds with control and security.

As we have all become more reliant on the internet and other networks, we have now come to the point when these networks are starting to be considered public utilities. In his “Network Operations on a Public Utility Internet” presentation, Karl Auerbach, CTO of IWL, discussed the impact on network operators as the internet becomes a lifeline-grade utility. With the internet merging with utility and banking networks, it has become a critical infrastructure and will fall more under the jurisdiction of liability laws and related regulations that both network operators and vendors need to consider.

Innovation continues in disaggregated network operating system software – in “SONiC: Open Source NOS in Data Center,” Vincent Celindro, Dell Technologies and Alankar Sharma, Comcast discussed the drivers around Comcast’s use of SONiC. They discussed the benefits of decoupling the hardware and software layers and the goals to reduce cost, improve feature velocity and portability, and reduce vendor lock-in.

I believe that we will continue to see more disaggregated and open switching and routing solutions deployed for these reasons. Infinera recently announced the selection of our open, hardware-agnostic CNOS routing software and DRX disaggregated router family by Telefonica Deutschland to enable them to prepare their nationwide mobile network for 5G mobile services.

One of the few optical-related presentations at NANOG, “The intersection of optical transport and routing in next-generation networks” from Phil Bedard of Cisco, discussed the IP over DWDM deployment architecture. Recently, CFP2-DCI 100G/200G pluggables have enabled IP over DWDM in access and aggregation applications, and 400G ZR and ZR+ will enable expansion to applications with 400G-based switches and routers.

I agree that we will see an increase in IP over DWDM deployment, though other optical and switching architectures will continue to have their place in network deployments – it’s really a matter of the choosing the right solution or instrument, in keeping with the musical analogy. Speaking of optical innovation for next-generation networks, Infinera has recently announced XR optics, the industry’s first scalable solution optimized for point-to-multipoint traffic flows.  Built upon innovation in Nyquist subcarriers, XR optics enables a single transceiver to generate numerous lower-speed subcarriers that can be independently steered to different destinations.

I’ll finish off with a callout to all the network operators that I talked to during the Beer n Gear session on Tuesday evening. Just like at past NANOGs, I find this session a great opportunity to have engaging business conversations in an informal setting.

Can you find the costumed character visiting our exhibit? He’s not a rock star, but a Halloween film star.

While the final encore has completed at NANOG 77 in Austin, the performance of the networks that we have come to so rely on will continue through the innovative and ceaseless efforts of the network operators who were represented at this event. I look forward to continuing our networking conversations in The City by the Bay February 10-12, 2020 at NANOG 78.