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Three steps to a high-speed migration cabling strategy for SDN/NFV

Three steps to a high-speed migration cabling strategy for SDN/NFV

2 October 2018 | Reading Time: 3 minutes


Communication service providers (CSPs) today must be able to keep up with subscribers’ insatiable appetite for wireless content, which is pushing their networks to breaking point.

As a result, service providers are increasingly rethinking their networks to meet demand,
and looking to network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) as the keys to a new network architecture.

With SDN/NFV, the shift to a high-density leaf-spine network with an east-west flow, allows CSPs to benefit from numerous advantages – for example unlocking cost savings from lower-cost multimode optics. These technologies deliver higher levels of automation (enabling faster and more agile services), new revenue streams and allows more efficient management.

In our previous post, we explored the requirements necessary to prepare a service provider network infrastructure for SDN/NFV. Here, we explore three steps CSPs can take to develop a high-speed migration strategy.

Three steps to a high-speed migration cabling strategy for the SDN/NFV pod

To develop the best strategy for long-term migration in the SDN/NFV pod, CSP infrastructure
designers must make several important decisions. There are three main considerations here for CSP engineering teams, namely: deciding the type of optical fibers to use, the optimal fiber count for MPO trunk cables to ensure the best fiber usage, and how to maximize fiber and equipment density – all while keeping the network manageable.

Step 1 – Fiber Type

By providing simultaneous transmission of multiple wavelengths over the same fiber, short wavelength division multiplexing (SWDM) technology can offer a significant opportunity to increase data speeds while reducing overall fiber count. However, to take advantage of this technology, transmissions must begin at 850nm and increase with 30nm spacing between wavelengths.

Although OM3 and OM4 fiber is specified for transmission on a maximum wavelength of 850nm, OM5 wideband multimode fiber has been developed to support transmissions of 880, 910 and 940nm. The standard for OM5 was developed in 2016 by ANSI and TIA, supporting 28 Gigabits per wavelength and at least 100 Gigabits per fiber over 100 meters.

The ANSI/TIA-492AAAE standard also specified OM5 multimode fiber as the standard medium for wideband multimode technology. Fully backward compatible and supporting legacy high speed technologies, as well as SWDM-based applications, OM5 supports fiber applications from 10G to 100G today. It is arguably the best choice for a future-proof cabling infrastructure in an SDN/NFV pod as it is poised to support the evolution of optical technologies.

Step 2 – MPO Connector Fiber Count

There are three common fiber counts used with MPO connectors today: MPO-24, MPO-12, and MPO-8. Trunk cables using MPO-24 connectivity to deliver the best duplex and parallel fiber value and migration flexibility are the most appropriate for deploying SDN/NFV and cloud/compute environments.

For the lowest first-cost duplex design, ultra-low loss (ULL) MPO-24 provides one MPO to clean, test and manage, compared to two for MPO-12, or three for MPO-8. CSPs that plan to migrate to higher data rates will also need to decide between parallel versus duplex. MPO-24 provides multiple parallel – MPO-8, MPO-12 or MPO-24 – and/or duplex ports via a single MPO-24 trunk.

Step 3 – Fiber Density and Management

For CSP engineering teams today, a significant challenge is ensuring that tightly packed fibers remain accessible, well managed and protected. Currently, a fiber count of 144 fibers, per rack unit, is the de facto standard in data center cabling. When planning for high density, technicians must ensure ease of access to each individual connector, proper patch cord routing toward the sides of the cabinet, and simplified management of the patch cord bundle size.

High – or ultra-high density patch panels with well-designed front side patch cord management are important to provide unobstructed access for faster turn-ups while reducing mean time to resolution (MTTR).

When deciding on a panel, consider fiber security within the cassette to ensure that the service from existing connections won’t be compromised during maintenance or upgrades. Check that the fiber guidance system will ensure unimpeded routing through the sides of the panel and make sure that the bend radius is well within the application specifications. A well-designed fiber panel will both support ultra-high density connectivity and be easy to use.

Prepare Your Infrastructure to Meet Demand

The demands on CSP networks will only continue to grow as customers expect faster, more personalized and ubiquitous access to content and services. NFV and SDN will ultimately provide carriers with the speed, flexibility and management capabilities to keep up with demand. Rethinking the traditional central office design and architecture, and moving virtualization and cloud/compute resources to the edge will result in a more responsive, robust, and efficient infrastructure that is capable of meeting customer demands both now and in the future.

You can learn more about considerations for modern network infrastructure here.


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