Heavy Reading
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Optical Switching Revival: Rebuilding Optical Networks for Packets

Optical switching has become an important pillar in telecom networks, but its development bears very little resemblance to early visions of the how the technology would be deployed and used. In optical crossconnects, for instance, demand for all-optical products did not materialize, but crossconnects with optical-to-electrical-to-optical (OEO) switch fabrics which convert light into electricity for processing before reconverting it to light for transmission gained a ready following. Unlike all-optical crossconnects, these OEO products were able to groom traffic at lower speeds such as 155 Mbit/s, which is exactly what the market required.

Meanwhile, some all-optical fabric technologies proved important, but the end devices are very different from the Xros and LambdaRouter concepts promoted in the early part of this decade. All-optical switching technologies particularly micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) switching fabrics are being sold in volumes today. However, they are deployed as the foundation of reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexer (ROADM) subsystems, not as large optical crossconnects. Often, these subsystems are integrated into wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) transport equipment, particularly in metro/regional WDM systems. They are small in size and low in port counts (and much lower in cost).

As we look into the future, optical switching needs to evolve again, and this evolution is now underway. At the highest level, the changes are driven by the need to re-architect telecom networks for the transition from TDM to packets a move that is just starting to happen. For the transport network, this means a change from Sonet/SDH transport to packet transport using Ethernet and IP protocols. For the switching network, this means a transition from circuit-switched Sonet/SDH to switching built for packet protocols ultimately switching packets themselves optically.

Of increasing importance in optical switching are Ethernet switching and optical transport network (OTN) switching, both of which are built for packet traffic. Also critical are developments in the optical control plane, including: the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) Automatically Switched Optical Network (ASON) recommendations; the Internet Engineering Task Force's (IETF) Generalized Multiprotocol Label Switching (GMPLS) standards; and the Optical Internetworking Forum's (OIF) implementation agreements for control plane interoperability.

An important difference moving forward is that the optical switching technologies and standards will not reside on a single network element (i.e., the optical crossconnect), but will reside in different network elements located in different parts of the network and operating at different layers of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) stack (i.e., Layers 0, 1, 2, and 3). This more distributed role for the optical switching function is a positive development for the industry. There are more vendors and more minds at work tackling the switching problem. It does, however, make the switching world more complex and bring interworking and interoperability to the forefront.

The Optical Switching Revival: Rebuilding the Optical Network for Packets offers a detailed investigation into the future of optical switching, including in-depth analysis of the following product and technology areas:

Optical control plane standards and standards organizations, including ITU ASON, IETF GMPLS, and OIF
Optical crossconnects
OTN switching
Photonic switching with ROADMs
Next-generation ROADM technologies, including colorless ROADMs, directionless ROADMs, and "digital" ROADMs
Converged packet-optical transport systems (P-OTS)
Optical packet switching (OPS)
Optical burst switching (OBS) and especially ring-based OBS


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The report profiles and analyzes 12 leading and innovative suppliers in optical switching, based on exclusive, in-depth interviews with components suppliers, systems suppliers, and network operators.

For a list of technology suppliers analyzed in this report, click here.

In addition, the report draws on a wealth of user and survey data collected by Heavy Reading to provide deeper insight into network operator plans and expectations regarding their deployment of optical technologies.

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Report Scope and Structure

The Optical Switching Revival: Rebuilding Optical Networks for Packets is structured as follows:

Section I is an introduction to the report, with complete report key findings.

Section II provides an overview of the standalone optical crossconnect market, including OEO crossconnects and photonic optical crossconnects.

Section III delves into the role of the optical control plane in optical switching, including work by the ITU, the IETF, and the OIF.

Section IV discusses the ITU OTN standard and how OTN switching must evolve in OTN transport networks.

Section V details the evolution of the ROADM to perform the photonic switching function, including its integration into metro/regional WDM transport systems and in emerging P-OTSs.

Section VI examines the future of optical switching in emerging technologies, including OPS and OBS. In particular, this section evaluates ring OBS technology as a viable near- to medium-term technology for packet-optical transport networks.

Section VII profiles 12 leading and innovative suppliers in optical switching, based on exclusive, in-depth interviews with components suppliers, systems suppliers, and network operators.

The report is essential reading for a wide range of industry participants, including the following:

Telecom service providers: How will new developments in optical technology affect your deployment decisions and your ability to compete? How do anticipated migration plans match up with your company's plan? What kinds of factors are most likely to drive or stall implementation of optical switching in carrier networks? Which suppliers are in the best position to meet your needs for next-generation optical products?
Telecom equipment manufacturers: How do your product development plans map to those of your competitors in the optical sector? Is your current and anticipated product portfolio in line with projected technology deployments? What impact will various standards have on development and demand for optical switching technologies?
Component and subsystem suppliers: What is the most likely demand curve scenario for components and subsystems that enable optical switching? Which equipment suppliers and products are emerging as the early leaders in this sector? Where are the market opportunities for your components and subsystems?
Investors: How will the migration to optical switching affect the optical networking sector? Which technology providers are likely to emerge as the main suppliers of next-gen optical products, and when are they most likely to reap those benefits?


The Optical Switching Revival: Rebuilding Optical Networks for Packets is published in PDF format.

LENGTH: 47 PAGES
PRICE: $3,995
STERLING PERRIN
Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading
Sterling's coverage areas at Heavy Reading include optical networking, cable MSO infrastructure and services, and digital content...
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12 TECHNOLOGY SUPPLIERS ANALYZED
Click here for a full list of included vendors.
PRODUCT SECTORS COVERED:
Optical control planes
Optical crossconnects
OTN switching
Photonic switching with ROADMs
Next-generation ROADM technologies, including colorless ROADMs, directionless ROADMs, and "digital" ROADMs
Converged packet-optical transport systems (P-OTS)
Optical packet switching (OPS)
Optical burst switching (OBS) and ring-based OBS
DELIVERABLES
47 pages of analysis covering the development of packet-based optical technologies and products
Detailed profiles of key equipment and technology suppliers in the optical switching sector
In-depth analysis of the likely evolution path for key optical products including ROADMs and packet-optical transport systems (POTS)
LENGTH: 47 PAGES
PRICE: $3,995
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