Colt On Demand: Optical

Your guide to Layer 1 On Demand networking


Optical Networking on Demand Provides Economical High-Performance Datacentre Interconnection

Application and network administrators have realised that there isn't one perfect theatre of operation, and a hybrid approach is being used to take advantage of the best features of private datacentres and cloud computing. This means that application architecture has changed and that larger amounts of data are moving from site to site, making datacentre interconnection networks an even more critical network component.

According to IDC, the data generated (created and replicated) by consumers and enterprises in 2022 exceeded 100,000 exabytes and this is expected to more than double between 2022 and 2026. It's hard to imagine this magnitude of data, but in 2022 it was equivalent to 2.7 petabytes of data — or 27,000 4K movies — being generated every second.

In the coming years, new use cases enabled by 5G will create a new deluge of data. An autonomous vehicle, for example, will generate 4TB of data per hour of driving. This data explosion dictates new requirements on datacentre interconnectivity: 100Gbps has become the norm, but many enterprises, cloud providers and telecom operators have jumped to 400Gbps, and tomorrow they will need more than 1Tbps. But this is not only a question of volume and speed: latency is critical for high-frequency trading, machine-to-machine applications, synchronous data mirroring and in an edge- and 5G-enabled world of interactive applications where very low latency is a burning challenge for datacentre interconnection.

Packet data transmission services can't cope with these stringent requirements. Only wavelength optical services can deliver the expected reliable and scalable high-speed connectivity. A wavelength service offers a wide choice of speed and range of interfaces (Ethernet, fibre channel, OTN, SDH/SONET, etc.). A customer doesn't use any shared infrastructure, but rather dedicated channels that are proactively monitored and provide the deterministic performance that is almost impossible to achieve with shared packet networks. With encryption features and path diversity, optical services are highly resilient and meet the requirements of the most demanding regulations.

Optical Connectivity Key Features

Speed 10Gbps, 100Gbps, 400Gbps
Latency Predictable
Very low latency below 100km
No packet delay variation
Transparency Full control protocol transparency
Resilience Path diversity
Security AES-256 encryption

But optical needs to manage new data patterns, and cost-effectively provisioning the required capacity becomes more challenging. For instance, during Black Friday or Christmas, the capacity must scale up to meet the demand. During the rest of year, enterprises don't consume such huge amounts of capacity: overprovisioning and paying for underutilised resources is costly and inefficient. Additionally, data generated at the edge will increase, representing 15% in 2021 and growing to 24% in 2026. With edge AI, a significant portion of data is analysed where it is generated, but aggregated and often anonymised data and data analytics are often moved in private or cloud datacentres to be stored and to train ML algorithms with massive data transfers that can be scheduled and automated at certain times of the day or week. With ML, new types of data are emerging: to train ML models, artificially generated data — synthetic data — is created. This is used in highly regulated verticals such as finance and healthcare, but also by companies using computer vision for image recognition and software developers for quality assurance. These massive sets of data are generated when needed by developers and data scientists, and they need an immediate response from optical connectivity.

Today's optical connectivity services are too static. Customers — enterprises, cloud providers, system integrators and telecom operators — need a cloud-like experience to consume optical services with a pay-as-you-go model.


Optical Connectivity is the cornerstone of Data Centre Interconnection


On-Demand Optical Networks Can Change the Way You Think About Connectivity

If optical connections across multiple datacentre locations could be moved or deactivated by customers in minutes, and only paid for when used, network agility would be directly aligned to application and business agility. On-demand optical networks enable the customers of network operators and service providers to quickly provision connectivity services on a pay-per-use basis. These networks provide a flexible solution for many different types of businesses and are becoming increasingly popular as the demand for high-speed, cost-efficient connectivity continues to grow.

One of the key advantages of on-demand optical networks is the ability to quickly scale and provide very-high-bandwidth connectivity. This makes them an ideal solution for businesses that need to rapidly increase connectivity speeds to meet rising demand. As well as scaling to meet higher demand, they can also scale down by removing unneeded optical connections and offer budget savings during low periods.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers are ideal candidates to take advantage of on-demand optical networks. As more businesses move their operations to the cloud, increasingly larger data sets are being migrated, which can negatively impact application transformation projects. SaaS providers often have migration periods stretched out due to the time required to transfer petabytes of data. On-demand optical networks can meet the demands of many  SaaS providers, as they provide high-bandwidth connectivity that can be rapidly scaled up by adding additional optical connections when demand is high, and then back down to a standard base rate. This enables SaaS providers to meet the needs of their customers, without contracting excess, unused network capacity.

In the digital media industry, bandwidth requirements can be extremely high, particularly during the development phase when large video files or high-resolution images are transferred from motion capture or recording facilities to development locations. On-demand optical networks are well-suited to meeting these demands, as they provide high-speed connectivity that can be scaled up or down as needed by simply adding or removing optical network segments. A game development company described its network, which involved over 50 locations. On any given day, the network connections to several of those locations required very high throughput. An on-demand optical network that enabled it to change a subset of those connections to be much higher speed than normal would greatly reduce the time to transfer data and speed up game development.

The digital media use case clearly illustrates how optical on demand can provide flexibility when it comes to path and endpoint selection. This can help address path diversity concerns, ensure data sovereignty by avoiding specific regions, and reduce costs by selecting paths and networks for specific applications.

In addition, on-demand optical networks are ideal for use in events such as concerts, conferences or trade shows. These often require high-speed connectivity to support attendees, and occasionally require much higher bandwidth connectivity to support live streaming to remote locations. On-demand optical networks can rapidly provision additional capacity to meet the needs of these events, offering organisers and attendees a smooth and seamless experience.

Periodic and seasonal online retail businesses, such as those operating around holidays or special events, also have unique connectivity needs. These businesses often experience significant spikes in demand during peak periods, which can strain their network resources, degrade the experience for end users and ultimately result in lost revenue. On-demand optical networks can help meet these demands, without overspending on network services, by constantly keeping network capacity in line with demand.

IDC's 2022 Enterprise Communications Survey asked 1,322 companies about the main issues they face in networking. On-demand access to connectivity services that can be turned on/off or scaled up/down in near real time was listed as important to 38.4% of respondents, while 31% listed it as extremely important.

On-demand optical networks can provide a flexible, scalable and reliable solution to the connectivity needs of many industries. SaaS providers, digital media companies, online retailers and many other types of business will find that on-demand optical networks can help meet the demand for efficient high-speed connectivity.

As you think about your own business and its connectivity needs, consider the advantages of on-demand optical networks. By leveraging the power of these networks, you can ensure that your company is achieving its goals, regardless of the demands placed on your network resources.


Optical Connectivity is the cornerstone of Data Centre Interconnection


On-Demand Optical Networks Bring Cloud Economics to Networking

An optical on-demand network is a rapidly scalable, high-speed network that enables network operators' customers to quickly add or remove high-capacity 100G or 400G connections without incurring the cost of unused capacity. These networks are a useful tool to meet the demand for dynamic, high-speed connectivity, enabling providers to meet the changing needs of their customers.

A key benefit of on-demand optical networks, especially when comparing to burstable packet networks, is their deterministic performance. This means that users can expect consistent performance, something that is sometimes difficult to deliver with shared-resource packet networks. This is important for businesses that rely on predictable performance to ensure the proper operation of their applications and services, and therefore a high-quality end-user experience.

According to IDC's 2022 Enterprise Communications Survey, 24% of companies said network capacity and scalability was a key challenge. A major benefit of on-demand optical networks is their flexibility. Through a portal or an API, customers can quickly increase or decrease their network resources to match the massive traffic demands of today's networking world. This means that businesses can take advantage of high-capacity 100G and 400G optical networks while avoiding overprovisioning their network resources during low-demand periods, which can be costly and wasteful.

On-demand optical networks can provide significant economic benefits for businesses. The networks enable businesses to only pay for very-high-bandwidth and connectivity resources when they are needed. This means that businesses can avoid paying for unused resources based on peak usage periods, and instead pay only for what they need, when they need it.

In addition, on-demand optical networks can provide significant cost savings compared to static networking solutions, enabling businesses to handle more traffic without increasing costs. This means that businesses can reduce their overall networking costs, while still addressing their always-growing connectivity demands.

Operating a high-performance network while taking advantage of cloud-like economics is one of the key benefits of on-demand optical networks. This means that businesses can maintain higher-performance connectivity when they need it, in much the same way they do with compute resources in a cloud platform. Building this capability into internal network and application management systems, however, is vital to making full use of the flexible costs of on-demand optical networks.

On-demand optical networks can also provide significant benefits for businesses moving their applications and services to the cloud. These networks can provide a flexible connection between a business' on-premises infrastructure and its cloud-based resources. This means businesses can avoid the latency and performance issues that can occur when accessing cloud resources over a public internet connection or packet-based private network, while still controlling costs.

For a wide variety of network-demanding industries, on-demand optical networking can provide a massively scalable and reliable solution for today's dynamic and demanding network environment. Whether you are a SaaS provider, a digital media company, a seasonal retailer or any other type of business with high network demands, on-demand optical networks can address the need for dynamic 100G and 400G connectivity while matching the agility required to meet your business outcomes.


Optical Connectivity is the cornerstone of Data Centre Interconnection

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