Life’s not easy for the world’s optical network engineers. The MSOs, carriers, data centers and other network/service providers they work for are continuing to invest in upgrading their networks to support not only 5G, but also a host of bandwidth and data-intensive services that will rely on this cellular standard. In the discussion surrounding these network upgrades, it’s easy to focus on exciting developments around open standards, bringing 100G DWDM to the edge of the network, 5G xHaul, 400G and more. However, it’s important to acknowledge that the need for high-performance networks has created 3 key “back to basics” challenges that are keeping today’s network engineers up at night. Briefly, they are:
- Operational Redundancy
- Supply Chain Reliability & Support
- Network Agility
Solving these challenges first will be mission-critical for the successful adoption of the exciting technologies that are set to transform the optical networking industry and the world forever. Here are our thoughts on each.
- Operational Redundancy
It’s true that emerging technologies and end-user interest in data-intensive services is driving the demand for higher bandwidth services like 400G and even 800G. From a logistical standpoint, however, what makes answering this need possible is the ever-increasing number of switches, routers and high-performance fiber strands that are being added to today’s networks.
The greater the capability of the network, the worse the effects of unplanned downtime. Network operators already think of redundancy at a high level, establishing secondary and tertiary fiber routes in case the primary one fails. The same principles must be applied at the equipment level to ensure true network redundancy. As an example, engineers will increasingly need to think about leveraging switches with more ports and blade support above what is solely required to operate the network. More ports and blades will mean a greater need for optical transceivers, which some suppliers unfortunately mark up by as much as 350%, according to Gartner.
Without true transceiver affordability, achieving optimal operational redundancy will remain a challenge. Fortunately, we at Precision OT are in a position to enable redundancy through the transceiver affordability and supply chain reliability we offer our customers.
- Reliable Supply Chains & Customer Support
When it comes to network upgrades and build-outs, supply chain reliability is everything. As the global pandemic and even the current crisis in Eastern Europe has demonstrated, the world of commerce is easily affected by world events. As a result, paying attention to the supply chain relationships of one’s vendors has become paramount.
At Precision OT, we have deep relationships with our Tier-1 suppliers, built on mutual respect and reliability. Thanks to the high volume nature of our business, we have the purchasing power needed to negotiate optimal pricing, which translates into affordable pricing on high quality optics for our customers. As we noted in a previous blog, we’ve seen customers paying 10 to 20 times more than what we charge for the same optics. When our customers purchase from us, they never have to worry about unreasonable markup.
Additionally, we see ourselves as a critical supply chain partner for our customers. That’s why all our transceivers (both in-stock models and customized solutions) are NEM-compatible, interoperable and rigorously tested in our labs before being deployed into the field. For select models, we even offer same day shipping! In short, we provide the high quality, affordability and speed to market needed for network operators and engineers to work on enhancing the redundancy of their networks.
Often the question of support keeps engineers up at night, but with Precision OT, they can finally rest knowing they have a reliable partner in their corner. As network specialists, we don’t simply provide equipment, but also ongoing technical support in the form of both remote and onsite testing and troubleshooting. This is one link in your supply chain that you can count on 100%.
- Network Agility
Today’s networks are increasingly complex, involving multiple hardware components and links of varying distances. MSOs, carriers, and other service providers are reimagining entire networks in order to support the performance requirements of 5G. Among many other requirements, the optical networks of tomorrow will need to:
- Accommodate an exponential growth in the amount of data that will be produced at the edge of the network, from roughly 1 million devices for every square kilometer
- Transport this data between the edge, cloud and core at high speeds with ultra low latency
- Perform dynamically and intelligently, steering traffic as needed and ensuring flexible service separation for the network slices that will enable a host of 5G-dependent applications
Building the agile and intelligent networks of the future will require automation and analytics. So far, the challenge for network operators lies in trying to juggle and integrate multiple software tools and hardware platforms within one software-defined network (SDN). At Precision OT, our Advanced Engineering Group is working on building software in such a way that it becomes possible to manage multiple platforms within an SDN using the same software for monitoring, diagnostics and configuration. In many ways, this future, overarching platform can be thought of like a box that holds other platforms and tools within it. Already, we’ve unveiled Lightseer, the first Machine Learning-powered SDN application for monitoring and analyzing the physical layer of an optical SDN. But we haven’t stopped there, so stay tuned!
In short, the optical networks of tomorrow will be incredibly advanced, offering transformative capabilities that will affect our daily lives. The journey to these networks, however, is not easy as network engineers grapple with equipment, cost, software and supply chain management issues. Fortunately, these challenges have a solution: finding the right optical networking solutions partner. That’s us – from affordable, high quality optics to advanced, emerging software solutions, we can support you on your journey to the networks of the future. Contact us today and let us show you the Precision OT way!