Alcatel-Lucent Unveils Next Step In Its ‘High Leverage Network’ Blueprint

September 16th, 2009 by · 1 Comment

Telecommunications equipment giant Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU, news, filings) today unveiled its Converged Backbone Transformation Solution and provided new details on its vision for networks of the future.  The key aspect of the new offering centers on IP/Optical convergence, bringing the routing layer much closer to the DWDM layer and promising higher efficiency, greater resiliency, and lower complexity.  (Still working on world peace though.  The company says studies indicate capex savings of 30% or greater, and power savings better than that.  Key elements of the offering also underlie Qwest's recent choice of the company's technology for its next generation network.   It's all part of Alcatel-Lucent's 'High Leverage Network' initiative, which aims to get more and more effective bandwidth out of core networks.

The basic problem that Alcatel-Lucent is trying to address is one that all carriers face down the line.  Traffic is rising exponentially, whether it be via mobile broadband, online video, cloud computing, or whatever the bandwidth hog of the day may be.  However, revenues are not rising exponentially, nor does anyone expect them to.  Therefore the cost per bit delivered must fall in step with the rising traffic, or else the economics break down sooner or later.  But while moving to 40G and 100G promises some savings, that alone is simply not going to be sufficient to scale capital and operational expenses over time.  Alcatel-Lucent's contention is that you can't solve this with a pure optical approach, nor can you solve it with a pure routing approach.  You have to teach the two to work together more efficiently.

How does this Converged Backbone Transformation Solution do that?

  • By enabling many types of of traffic grooming and using them in concert:  wavelength-level, port-level and sub-port-level - allowing networks to add capacity only where it is needed.  No more throwing bandwidth at problems; the right tool for the right job works wonders.
  • By allowing them to bypass the core routing layer smoothly and efficiently.   Routers are expensive, so operators would like to use them for traffic that needs routing, and not use them for traffic that doesn't.  Other methods exist to bypass core routers, but this brings it into the network as a core capability.
  • By providing unprecedented visibility between the transport and routing layers to enable operators to use those tools properly.

Sounds great on paper.  Will it work?  Will they really be able to deliver on promises of scaling costs via IP/optical integration sufficiently to counter traffic growth rates of greater than 50% each year?  We'll have to watch how things develop at Qwest and its other new customers over the next few years.  It certainly seems to be a step in the right direction, and it's something of a relief to talk about something other than 100G when it comes to new network technology.

But the key here, it seems to me, is how well people work with the new systems in the real world.  Alcatel-Lucent's vision is all about offering fine tuned control over the core network, but to be effective the people using it must be well trained in its capabilities.  Similarly, a company's culture and internal operations must be capable of supporting the levels of collaboration required, those transport and IP groups will need to work hand in hand more often.  That of course favors the more flexible amongst us, but these days what doesn't?

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Categories: Telecom Equipment

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1 Comment, Add Yours!


  • Bean Lucas says:

    Hello, this post is a great analysis of HLN, thank you.

    I’m ignorant of this particular subject:
    “bypass the core routing layer smoothly and efficiently. Routers are expensive, so operators would like to use them for traffic that needs routing, and not use them for traffic that doesn’t.”

    Can you suggest examples of traffic which doesn’t need routing? Or, suggest resources where I could learn about this subject?

    Thanks again,
    BL

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