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How to Manage Pluggables in IP over DWDM Networks

IP over DWDM is rapidly becoming a reality as the cost and power savings are undeniable. The lines between IP and optical networks are blurring as high-performance, coherent pluggable optics are rapidly being adopted by various types of network operators and deployed directly into routers, switches, servers, 5G radios, and other IP devices. Over the next 5 years, it is expected that more than two million coherent D-W-D-M pluggables will be deployed in a wide variety of host devices. But adding coherent pluggables into the IP domain creates organizational and operational challenges. The first challenge for operators is that the IP network and optical network are typically managed by different people or teams internally, and this can cause ownership confusion when the optical layer moves into the IP device. Operators will need to consider who has the expertise and responsibility for the provisioning and maintenance of these coherent pluggables. Either the optical team needs to laccess the routers to make updates and changes or the IP team has full ownership of the pluggable, with limited optical know-how, and no visibility over the remaining part of the optical network. The second challenge is that as coherent pluggables become more intelligent and gain more functionalities similar to embedded optics, the IP host lacks optical network visibility and is limited to basic optical configurations. The IP host cannot perform more advanced functions like alarm correlation, power management, and other functions in the optical domain. To accommodate these advanced features, each IP host vendor would need to develop and test these functions and continually update its own operating system for each pluggable vendor as new pluggable features are added. This simply isn’t efficient or scalable in today’s market. The Open XR Optics Forum published specifications for a host-independent dual management approach, where coherent pluggables can be managed through the host device for basic configurations like setting the D-W-D-M frequency, power, and modulation, but can also be managed independently of any router support for more sophisticated optical functions to optimize performance and expand optical configurations to include point-to-multipoint networks. As coherent pluggables get more features, the importance of having host-independent management is becoming a major requirement for rapid deployment and operation. This can be achieved in various ways, all independent of the host operating system, including using a management VLAN, a virtual routing and forwarding instance, or a small software agent that runs seamlessly as a third-party application in the router. This host-independent management approach decouples the pluggable from the host development cycle and provides management uniformity regardless of the type of host device. This enables fast access to advanced optical features, without disrupting the network by having to upgrade the router or host operating system. For more information on intelligent coherent pluggables, visit

Published on: October 09, 2023