February 1, 2000
Optical Consortium Seeks Automatic Provisioning
BY CHARLOTTE WOLTER
A new optical internetworking initiative, the Optical Domain Service Interconnect
(ODSI), opens the possibility of automating the service provisioning and bandwidth
grooming that is one of the most serious bottlenecks in the delivery of optical network
The ODSI, supported initially by Sycamore Networks Inc. (www.sycamore
networks.com), is attempting to develop an interface that will allow electrical network
components, such as routers, ATM switches and cross-connects, to provision services on an
These electrical components, because they are based on packets or cells that contain
addressing information, have knowledge of the bandwidth required for each stream, and of
the origin and the destination of the traffic–all the information needed to set up a
"What we are doing with this is looking to get a well-defined handoff between the
service layer and the underlying optical layer," says Jeff Kiel, vice president of
product marketing, Sycamore Networks.
The handoff or interface will allow IP layers to signal into the optical network, and
set up and tear down services on demand.
"It is the IP boxes that understand traffic patterns, quality of service [QoS] and
applications, because we don’t understand that," Kiel says. "We just provide the
backbone. This is taking the ability to manipulate wavelengths in a very agile manner and
letting the service layer do it."
Already, the new generation of optical network vendors, such as Sycamore, Monterey
(Networks Inc., acquired by Cisco Systems Inc., www.cisco.com) and Corvis Corp.
(www.corvis.com) have incorporated some form of service provision in an optical network.
"They are marrying dynamic IP with the optical layer to set up circuits on
demand," Kiel says.
ODSI could be important beyond building interoperability between electrical and optical
systems, or among optical vendors, says analyst Chris Nicoll, director of optical and
carrier services, Current Analysis Inc. (www.currentanalysis.com).
A significant issue in optical networks is that it now takes 90 to 100 days to
provision one circuit across the country.
"If you can get that down to an automatic system that does it in a matter of days,
it’s a real improvement," Nicoll says. Another reason the effort is important is
because it addresses true services, such as provisioning a cross-country OC-48 for a
specific customer for a specific period.
It is expected that there will be several different suggestions for the actual
signaling system itself. Sycamore will introduce multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), a
QoS protocol that is being developed for IP telephony.
"MPLS and traffic engineering are well understood, and vendors are implementing
that," Kiel says.
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