Top Ten Factors Driving the Evolution of Metro Ethernet Networks

August 1st, 2014 by · Leave a Comment

Cloud services, broadband video, mobile technologies, apps, and other forms of information and entertainment are all driving tremendous traffic volumes on metro networks. This packet-based network traffic – connecting people to content – travels on metro networks as soon as it leaves the data center. Network operators are feeling the pressure of unpredictable traffic volumes, and they need new network solutions that allow them to keep pace with demand growth while reducing complexity and enabling the addition of new services. Brian Lavallée, Ciena’s Director or Product & Solutions Marketing shares a list of factors driving the evolution of metro Ethernet networks today and into the future.

1) Metro networks are changing—FAST

Metro Ethernet networks have rapidly evolved from 1GbE to 10GbE and 100GbE ports, connections and services in just a few years. These networks are the main aggregation points for network operators, accepting traffic from multiple sources, including cell towers, office buildings, and residences that drive bandwidth demand. Legacy networks simply cannot maintain pace with surging bandwidth demands. New services, such as high-definition streaming video access over fixed and mobile networks put tremendous strain on traditional networks.

2) Adoption of cloud services are proliferating—EQUALLY AS FAST

Cloud services—applications accessed on a local device but run on a remote server in a data center—are also driving demand for high-performance metro networks. In addition, businesses want their high-performance, mission-critical applications running in remote data centers over metro networks to be as reliable and secure as those previously run in onsite data centers.

3) High-resolution video is making inroads around the globe. Users expect high-performance streaming video content. The migration from standard definition to HD and from HD to 4K continues to accelerate. Metro networks must be prepared to handle the demand generated by HD for 100GbE network services. For example, sporting events—such as the 2014 World Cup, which broadcasted three matches in 4K—generate tremendous amounts of bandwidth demands onto networks from source to end user, including metro networks.

4) Boosting energy efficiency protects the bottom line.

As network speeds and the number of users, man or machine, continue to increase, power consumption also increases—an unsustainable trend that must be reversed. Networks must be able to scale without consuming more space or power.

5) 10GbE is the new normal.

Ethernet is the standard way to build metro network infrastructure. By 2017, it is estimated that more than 75 percent of all global bandwidth will be Ethernet-based. This outlook has driven a unique set of economics never before experienced in the network infrastructure arena, making 10GbE standard unit of measure in metro networks—and the migration to 100GbE has already begun.

6) Connect, compute, and storage are evolving, and merging.

The network is now front and center, with a goal of transforming to serve the on-demand needs of content service delivery. Connect, capacity, and store are merging to form a better programmable service offering. Of these three key elements, the connect function has the most direct impact on user experience.

7) Consolidation is a crucial success factor.

Network elements that combine the best features of the data center, including high-scale packet aggregation and switching, must combine with the best features of the metro network, such as high-capacity wide area optical networking to enable simple, cost-effective networks.

8) Ready for an unpredictable future.

High-performance and reliable connectivity is critical between data centers. With the emergence of Software-Defined Networking (SDN), service providers can turn the network itself into an application enabler that offers massive scalability and simplicity and compelling economics.

9) Programmability enables new growth possibilities.

Agile networks must be able to recognize and react to conditions in the metro network automatically by adding or removing capacity on demand. Networks are moving toward a SDN architecture, which employs programmable platforms to rapidly deliver highly differentiated network services. These SDN features significantly reduce capital and operational costs while simplifying training, services management, power, space, and time to market for delivering new data-centric services. This virtualized approach will allow network operators to deliver bulk bandwidth now, with the flexibility to program new capabilities in the future.

10) Modernization leads to improved monetization.

Government network operators will benefit from increased scalability, flexibility, and programmability to build networks that will serve all constituents inside and outside an agency or department. Enterprises will gain the scalability, flexibility, and compelling economics to meet their growing service demands by leveraging a platform that delivers twice the density and requires half the power and space of competing solutions.

This Industry Viewpoint was authored by Brian Lavallée, Director of Product & Solutions Marketing at Ciena.

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