Streamlining your network with GMPLS - Part 2

We continue our discussion from the November column regarding Generalized Multi-protocol Label Switching (GMPLS) and service provider expectations.

Returning to profitability and increasing shareholder value will no doubt be huge themes for service providers in 2003. We want to continue our discussion from the November column regarding Generalized Multi-protocol Label Switching (GMPLS) and service provider expectations. Part 1 can be found here.

Service providers need to implement new techniques if they are going to be successful in the future. GMPLS has the potential to save operators significant operating expenses. Our interviews revealed a variety of cost savings expectations that can be categorized in three main areas: cross-layer traffic engineering; integrated protection/restoration; and rapid service provisioning.

Cross-layer Traffic Engineering:

IP routers forward traffic based on the shortest path available through the network. Shortest path routing can result in underutilized links and highly congested links. To accommodate for this situation, service providers provision excess capacity on specific links, increasing network costs. GMPLS solves this problem through the automatic reconfiguration and optimization of the logical optical paths between routers based on the actual traffic patterns and volumes. Service providers can reduce network costs in the following areas:

•  Traffic engineering manpower - decreased need for manual network design and configuration results in decreased manpower. Bandwidth - there is no longer a need to over-provision capacity on the network, which reduces overall bandwidth needs. Router ports - GMPLS drives efficiency in the network reducing the size of routers or delaying router upgrades, both leading to a lower number of router ports.

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Integrated Protection/Restoration:

Service providers implement network recovery techniques at both the data and the transport layers to achieve an acceptable level of network availability and satisfy service-level agreements (SLA). GMPLS enables a dynamic multi-layer restoration technique by also helping with recoveries from router failures. The optical network reconfigures and even reoptimizes the logical IP topology during a router failure. This saves service providers costs in the following areas:

•  Restoration plan/design management - GMPLS automates many of the restoration functions, decreasing the amount of time and personnel needed. Capacity - the ability of the optical network to reconfigure the logical IP topology during failures reduces the need for spare capacity. Router ports - capacity savings results in a lower number of necessary router ports.

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Rapid Service Provisioning:

Human intervention and the manual mapping of circuits are required to turn up new circuits in today's environment. In fact, some service providers state as much as 95% of the provisioning process is manual. GMPLS allows point-and-click and near-real time provisioning of optical circuits through a management interface and is designed to operate in a multivendor, multilayer, and multicarrier environment. Thus, service providers can set up the service in minutes or hours using an automated process with little or no human intervention. This helps them save costs in the following ways:

•  Provisioning time and manpower - automation reduces the manual tasks and even allows some customers to self-provision, greatly reducing costs. Provisioning tools and systems - GMPLS reduces the number of provisioning tools and systems needed. This also reduces the amount of training time and costs.

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Cost savings are not the only benefit. GMPLS also provides the opportunity for additional revenues. Stricter SLAs, quicker provisioning, lower customer churn and new services such as bandwidth on demand are made possible. TeleChoice has written a whitepaper on this subject titled "GMPLS: Streamlining Networks Back to Profitability" that contains additional information. A free copy can be obtained here.

This story, "Streamlining your network with GMPLS - Part 2" was originally published by The Edge.

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