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Pluggable Coherent Optics: I Love it When a Plan Comes Together

by Juniper Employee ‎04-30-2016 11:03 AM - edited ‎08-17-2016 04:32 PM


Difficult tasks take planning and a lot of hard work. If you grew up watching The A-Team you saw this play out every week: a problem no one else could solve with impossible odds - yet somehow they managed to solve it in just an hour. In the product development world things can take a bit longer (perhaps because we lack explosives, helicopters and blow torches), but it all starts with a plan...


A Plan


DWDM transport is not a new concept - core and metro networks as we know them today were built out using DWDM technologies dating back to the early 90s. That said, DWDM has always been the most technically challenging realm of optical communications. While all early optical interfaces were initially built from of discrete components, lower-complexity client interfaces (e.g. 1/10/100GE) quickly moved to pluggable formfactors such as SFP/XFP/SFP+/XENPAK/CFP/etc. Standardization, high volume manufacturing and a multi-vendor ecosystem made all of this possible.


In 2011 Juniper had a bold plan - what if the same concept could be applied to coherent DWDM optics? This was a pretty nutty idea at the time considering the world's first real-time coherent implementation took place only a year earlier using half a rack of equipment. Even if it could be shrunk down, many proclaimed it would never work or couldn't be deployed.


A Patent 


Implausible as it may have seen at the time, Juniper went ahead anyhow and applied for a patent in early 2011. Several years later a broad patent entitled Pluggable photonics for coherent optical communication was issued in 2015. While the plaque on the wall is nice, taking this concept to market was still a huge task.


A Standard


Like the client optical market, Juniper believed that an open, healthy ecosystem was critical if pluggable coherent DWDM was to become a reality. To build an ecosystem requires standardization and the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) was determined to be the ideal venue. By turning to the OIF, a Juniper idea soon became an industry collaboration. By 2013 an official project start had been launched and several years of detailed work resulted in the Implementation Agreement for a CFP2 Analogue Coherent Optics Module (aka CFP2-ACO) in 2016.


A Product


Five years of work finally paid off. CFP2-ACO based products were front & center at OFC2016, including the official launch of two new Juniper pluggable coherent interface cards for MX and PTX.


Colonel "Hannibal" Smith said it best: 


a team.jpg

by oliviawaco
on ‎05-03-2016 03:03 AM

Nice information. Thanks for sharing

Juniper Networks Technical Books
About the Author
  • I started work at a router company, moved to an optical company adding MPLS, moved to mobility company, moved to a packet optical company who got bought by a router company. Full Circle!!
  • David is a Distinguished Engineer in Juniper's Optical Engineering team, having joined Juniper as part of the acquisition of WANDL Inc in January 2014. David is working on routing and optimisation software for multilayer networks to help plan and design networks using the new generation of packet-optical technology from Juniper. In "previous lives", David worked on soliton propagation; diffractive optic device design and network design software and algorithms in the Optics Research Group in BT's Adastral Park Laboratories in Ipswich. He holds a BA and PhD in Mathematics from the University of Cambridge.
  • Steven Keck is a Distinguished Engineer within Juniper's Optical Engineering team where he is responsible for architecture and implementation of packet-optical solutions for routing and switching platforms. Steve has been designing telecom hardware and optical systems for nearly 20 years. Prior to Juniper, he has held positions at Stanford Telecom, StrataLight Communications and Cisco Systems. He holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering from University of the Pacific.
  • David Song is a Sr Staff Engineer within Juniper's Optical Engineering team where he is responsible for the design of packet-optical solutions for routing and switching platforms. He joined Juniper in 2004 and has been designing networking software in control plane and data plane on various platforms. Prior to Juniper, he held various software development positions at Ciena and Nortel Networks.