Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs forecasts a 560% increase in data traffic on metro networks by 2017

Demand for video and proliferation of data centres will cause switch to metro networks, which in turn will drive a major shift in mobile network design

Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs forecasts a 560% increase in data traffic on metro networks by 2017

A Bell Labs study released by Alcatel-Lucent (3 December 2013) indicates that data traffic on metropolitan (‘metro’) access and aggregation networks is set to increase by 560% by 2017, driven by demand for video and the proliferation of data centres.

Even more significantly, the study showed that by 2017 more than 75% of that traffic will stay in metro networks, as compared with 57% today.

The study, entitled: Metro Network Traffic Growth: An Architecture Impact Study, also indicated that traffic from video services will skyrocket by as much as 720% and data centre traffic will increase more than 440% during the same time period. Combined, video and data centre traffic are the key drivers to the overall forecast increase of 560% traffic growth in the metro.

The key findings from the study include:

  • Total metro network traffic will increase 560% by 2017
  • Video traffic will increase 720% by 2017
  • Cloud and data centre traffic - consumer connections to data centres and interconnection between data centres - will increase 440% by 2017
  • Total metro traffic will grow approximately two times faster than traffic going into the backbone network by 2017.
  • By 2017, 75% of total traffic will terminate within the metro network and 25% of traffic will traverse the backbone network as video, data and web content is increasingly sourced from within metro networks.

Demand for video and data centres driving change

Fast-rising demand for ultra-broadband access, video, cloud and other high-bandwidth services is driving enterprises, communications service providers and webscale companies to bring content closer to their customers to better manage quality of experience (QoE) and gain operational efficiencies.

The most popular video content, for instance, is being cached deeper in the network so it can be delivered to customers locally over metro networks rather than being accessed from a central cache over the backbone network.

In addition, the growing demand for cloud services means that enterprises and operators are adding data centres within the metro area in order to support service delivery.

These shifting traffic patterns mean more traffic will now stay in the metro – 75% by 2017, as compared with 57% today. In contrast, only 25% of data traffic will traverse the backbone. Service providers require a network architecture that will ensure that the metro remains a key contributor – rather than bottleneck – in the new virtualised environment.

New network architecture required

The forecasted growth is expected to have a considerable impact on service providers’ networks. They will need to evolve to a new type of network architecture – optimised for the cloud - that will help control costs, guarantee quality and deliver new revenue-generating services to connect users and the cloud.

To address this need, service providers must move towards a cloud–optimised network, leveraging integrated IP, optical and management solutions together with software-defined networking (SDN). This will allow them to deploy networks that meet dynamic and rapid growth in customer demand for video and other high-bandwidth cloud services with instantaneous access over the metro network.

Alcatel-Lucent’s Cloud– Optimised Metro Solution

Alcatel-Lucent’s Cloud–Optimised Metro solution draws upon the company’s IP, optical and network management portfolios to build agile, scalable and efficient metro networks for delivery of cloud optimised services. Key elements include a metro IP/MPLS layer enhanced with several new features and capabilities:

  • New 7950 Extensible Routing System (XRS)-16c small core platform optimised for multi-service metro core applications
  • New 7750 Service Router (SR) 400Gb/s line cards featuring high-density 10 and 100GE interfaces for metro aggregation and transport
  • New 7210 Service Access Switch (SAS)-T and 7210 SAS-R platforms for scaling the first layer of the metro access network from Gigabit on-ramp speeds to 10 Gigabit speeds
  • Support for seamless Multi-Protocol Layer Switching (MPLS) and MPLS-TP to enable highly scalable and efficient end-to-end metro architectures
  • Openflow interface support on the IP routing portfolio for enabling agile SDN control.

A second major element of the solution is an agile and programmable metro optical networking layer featuring new enhancements to Alcatel-Lucent’s 1830 Photonic Service Switch (PSS) family including:

  • New family of Integrated Packet Transport (IPT) modules transforming WDM networks into a flexible transport layer for the delivery of metro MEF certified Carrier Ethernet 2.0 services
  • New multiservice, multi-protocol 100Gb/s Data Centre Interconnect modules featuring transmission support for Ethernet, Infiniband and Fibre Channel services over a broad range of speeds and distances, in addition to programmable 100Gb/s or 200Gb/s modules for router interconnect.

Basil Alwan, head of IP Routing and Transport for Alcatel-Lucent, said: “This is the first traffic study to show the real impact of growth on operator networks. The move to cloud-optimised metro networks plays to Alcatel-Lucent’s core strengths of deploying massively scalable, efficient and agile networks.

“We have unmatched expertise in IP and optical product development and deployment, and a deep-seated understanding of end-to-end network and service management, both of which are critical to handle the imminent shift in the metro architecture.

“Moving forward, Alcatel-Lucent will continue to develop a more SDN-enabled IP and optical portfolio to allow networks to evolve even further into a virtualised environment,” said Alwan.

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