Juniper Unveils Industry's First Open Line System with Centralized, Disaggregated Network Control
Despite all the hype about openness, optical vendor lock-in is still pervasive in transport networks. According to IHS Markit, network operators worldwide installed more than $15 billion of WDM systems with ROADM functionality from 2014 to 2016—an installed base primarily designed for the integration of transponders and ROADM modules on a common platform. This is a prevailing attribute of vendor lock-in, along with tight coupling of optical network hardware and control software.
For our customers, vendor lock-in means complex, single-layer operations and less flexibility in controlling systems and operational costs. It stifles the innovation necessary to meet the demands of cloud, 5G, IoT, multi-gigabit broadband and other emerging technologies and service models. The challenges associated with proprietary transport solutions have catalyzed our customers to launch initiatives such as Open ROADM and Telecom Infra Project (TIP) to bring openness, programmability and disaggregation to optical transport networks.
Juniper Networks is meeting these challenges head-on. With today’s announcement introducing Programmable Photonic Layer, Juniper is offering the industry’s first open optical line system with centralized, disaggregated network control—a solution that reverses the status quo of locked-in, rigid, single-layer transport networks and takes full advantage of open network economics. Programmable Photonic Layer consists of the new TCX Series Optical Transport Systems and proNX Optical Director, a new network management and control platform.
Unique to Programmable Photonic Layer, network control software is disaggregated from the line system hardware, enabling operators to customize control solutions to specific network needs. By disaggregating software control, we help operators optimize line system performance, increase visibility and manageability of control plane attributes per channel, update control software without service interruption, and bring a new level of agility to optical network management.
For instance, if there is a segment in the middle of a long-haul link with relatively high loss, the operator can use proNX Optical Director to tailor control parameters for that segment independent of the rest of the link, optimizing system reach and performance. In a network with embedded control software on the line system nodes, this level of fine-tuning is operationally complex (if not impossible) and leads to service interruption.
Disaggregation of line system control demonstrates Juniper’s focus on software development as the primary value driver in optical transport. In contrast to competitors that require dedicated hardware R&D for protecting the status quo of integrated systems, Juniper is taking full advantage of partner-provided open hardware to reduce network element costs and enable a more agile, vendor-agnostic system deployment model.
Rapid advancements in component hardware technology make this approach far more compelling today than in the past. With more parity in line system hardware features and performance, Juniper can use the best of what the industry has to offer and focus squarely on software to address customer operational challenges and remove cost from the network. Incumbent optical suppliers cannot easily embrace this model because there’s still a large investment in traditional systems to protect. In short, Juniper is better prepared to help customers move faster towards open architectures.
A clear example of the value we are delivering through software is proNX Optical Director. Based on a highly available, extensible microservices-based architecture, proNX Optical Director supports easy and reliable deployment, scale, and integration of network applications and services—whether from Juniper, an operator development team, or a third-party. A full range of open, standards-based API’s, coupled with new automation capabilities such as the DevOps tool from Ansible, bring network programmability and automation to the forefront of the solution.
The extensibility of proNX Optical Director also creates a path to multi-layer operations and optimization by integrating seamlessly with Juniper’s NorthStar Controller. Using a standards-based YANG model, proNX Optical Director exchanges optical network topology with NorthStar, providing full visibility from the optical line system to Layer 3 and enabling the execution of multi-layer link protection and traffic engineering.
With deep software development resources and expertise throughout the network stack, Juniper is pushing the boundaries of openness, programmability, and automation in optical transport and, more broadly, packet-optical networking. Programmable Photonic Layer changes the economics and operational model of open line systems, liberating network operators to deploy the network elements and software tools that best match their network needs and budget.