New Services Call for the Use of MPLS Technology in IP Optimized Transport
The growth in both the variety and use of online services is requiring plenty of change in the way that networks themselves are approached. While transport equipment is generally used to manage connectivity, it commonly focuses on the need to transport multiple numbers of different services, and that was where SONET / SDH rose to greatness. Its ability to aggregate voice and data services as well as similar commonly-used services made it a great solution, but as traffic demands grew and WDM expanded, changes had to be made to keep bandwidth flowing to the services that needed it.
Since SONET / SDH was set up before WDM, it was missing some factors that became rather important as networks evolved such as managing wavelengths, optical elements like amplifiers and add / drop multiplexers. Optical Transport Network or OTN meanwhile, came into play to handle these parts of the network equation but again found themselves beset by rapid evolution in the network.
With networking now largely an IP function and the Ethernet serving as the sole link layer for IP transport, optimizing IP has become an important focus for a variety of providers. That's where multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) as well as the MPLS-TP variant come in, boosting access capabilities throughout both circuit management and channelization functions and providing better overall connection speeds in turn. Using MPLS and MPLS-TP has the significant potential to improve connectivity as both a source of terrific features like private point-to-point circuits, connection-based routing for faster data delivery, and a lower overall total cost of ownership, which is always appealing especially in a slow global economy.
Naturally, this has led some to question just why OTN is even necessary, especially with most traffic being IP over Ethernet, and the equipment in question being carrier Ethernet switches and routers. There are still functions that OTN can serve like working as a WDM transport layer and as what's known as a "thin WAN interface wrapper" for those carrier Ethernet hardware pieces that make up the larger network. That particular interface wrapper is regarded as a necessity by many in transport organizations, so since OTN is already in place, why not use it?
While the network picture continues to evolve, there's always some value in looking to use what's already on hand before developing and putting new tools in place. OTN may still have some useful functionality left to provide yet.
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Edited by Jamie Epstein