TM Forum Highlight: Optical Network bursts onto scene

In one of the highlights of the TM Forum Management World event in Dublin last week, the Irish government showed off its Exemplar project, a “metro ring” carrier network in Dublin that is said to be the first to incorporate optical burst switching, a technology that could have broad implications in greatly improving the efficiency and capacity of carrier networks.


In one of the highlights of the TM Forum Management World event in Dublin last week, the Irish government showed off its Exemplar project, a “metro ring” carrier network in Dublin that is said to be the first to incorporate optical burst switching, a technology that could have broad implications in greatly improving the efficiency and capacity of carrier networks.

The Exemplar network is part of the MAINS project, led by Telefonica I+D’s research branch, and with participation from a number of Dublin-based technology providers, including Intune Networks, which provided the unique switching technology, as well Amartus and Openet, which provided OSS and subscriber optimization software, respectively.

At the heart of the project is Optical Packet Switch and Transport (OPST) technology from Intune Networks, which will have achieved commercial viability after years of development. The unveiling of the project coincides with the commercialization of Intune’s new Verisma product line, which the company touts as the first carrier-class converged switch and transport solution based on optical burst switching.

A key benefit of the Verisma line is the ability to deliver so-called “liquid bandwidth” – the concept of allowing network operators to deliver packets of higher bandwidth on-demand. The versatility provided is considered to be particularly important for network operators supporting Cloud services and other high-bandwidth users, as well as allowing operators to participate more easily in spot-trading and service passes to boost revenue.

Tim Fritzley, Intune Networks CEO said “Before today’s commercial launch we have focused on validating the technical capabilities of our technology and performing early trials with large operators. We are now moving into a new phase of commercialisation as we prepare for multiple global first office applications in the second half of this year. So far the feedback from the market has confirmed our assertions and we have deep and broad engagement with the major players in the industry.”

The MAINS program is an European research project composed by universities, companies and research centres which aims to define and develop new architectural solutions for next generation metropolitan networks able to absorb new traffic demands generated fixed and mobile broadband access technologies.

The Exemplar Test-bed Program is a communications services test-bed provided by the Irish government’s Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) as a magnet to attract and expand leading edge research and development in Ireland for next generation Web and ICT services. According to Intune, the Verisma product family was selected as the foundation for the Exemplar lab Test-bed and allows the test bed to provide the flexible network architecture and simplified software operations and control interfaces required by the next generation of carrier services.

In the FP7 MAINS project, which is planning an OPST field trial in Cyprus in Q3-Q4 2011, the underlying objective is to develop a response to the fact that the current network architectures were never designed to cope with the new demands driven by emerging broadband Internet services like over-the-top video delivery, social networking and cloud computing.

MAINS project leader, Juan Pedro Fernandez-Palacios Gimenez from Telefόnica I+D Ultrabroadband Networks area, commented “The proposed MAINS (Metro Architectures Enabling Sub-wavelengths) architecture targets a new architectural solution that will be able to face the huge expected traffic increase in a more cost-effective way. This architecture will be needed in order to assure a low cost broadband Internet access in Europe.”

With its commercial launch, the Verisma product line will begin to be deployed in the field to support a number of applications, such as cloud computing, mobile backhaul and metro optical aggregation. With its ability to provide mesh networking, dynamic bandwidth allocation and software-defined networking, the solution has been attracting attention for data centre interconnect and network-as-a-service applications.

As noted by Stu Elby, VP Network and Technology at Verizon, “The ‘cloud’ promises to cost effectively provide infrastructure, applications, and services where-ever and whenever they are requested. The ability to dynamically move virtual machines and/or data sets among data centres will allow us to address hot spot issues while potentially enabling new services. Current network constraints do not permit this capability to be exploited cost-effectively, so to this end virtualized, dynamic networking will accelerate the adoption and profitability of the cloud. “