This morning Ciena took the wraps off of its next generation approach to the building and operating of fiberoptic networks. They are calling it Liquid Spectrum, and it takes the movement toward software defined networks deep into the transport layer.
The general idea is that in the past networks have been static things, set up to withstand the worst case scenario because of the time it takes to change their structure. That leaves tremendous amounts of capacity on the table and unused or at least underutilized. With the arrival of software-based control of networks comes the potential to change that paradigm and put deployed hardware to work dynamically and thus utilize it more efficiently.
It makes plenty of sense, and it's a trend that we will see in various forms at other vendors over the years ahead. Now that we are approaching physical limits when it comes to raw bandwidth that can fit on a fiber, doing a better job of utilizing what we have is becoming a necessary skill. After all, things like virtual reality, 5G, and IoT are coming and bandwidth demand isn't going away.
Calling it Liquid Spectrum encapsulates a pretty good metaphor. Liquids adopt the shape of their container, and networks of the future will need to be similarly flexible in response to shifts in their external conditions.
Initially, Ciena's effort will take the company's WaveLogic Ai coherent optics and its Blue Planet platform, enhancements for which will be available in Q2, and add four new software applications for measuring performance, optimizing bandwidth, smoothing restoration, and accelerating service provisioning, which will be ready by the end of this year.
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