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Automating optical networks can be easier than you think

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At work, we all encounter complex or inefficient business processes and wish we could automate them. Most of us don’t act on these wishes because we don’t have the right tools or software development expertise. But what if there were tools that could make it easy for people who aren’t professional software developers to create their own workflow automation and supporting applications?

I recently faced a new business process automation challenge, and the way I solved it made me recall the Nokia WaveSuite automation demos created for the OFC 2020 event.

For my challenge, I tried out a non-programmer environment that I had discovered in researching machine learning courses a year earlier. Within two days, I had developed a workable mobile app and automation workflows to create a proof of concept to address my challenge. It was good enough that I could demonstrate it to real developers, who could then take the process automation live with minimal effort.

Then I had a thought: What if it could be that easy to automate optical network operations? After all, we’re heading in the right direction with the development of open software applications to transform optical networks for the SDN era. We’re also seeing greater use of on-demand digital twins to create virtual simulations of physical networks.

WaveSuite applications for optical network automation

This brings me back to the OFC 2020 demos. The Nokia WavePrime professional services team developed two automation demos based on the WaveSuite Network Insight solution. Both demos used workflow development environments, WaveHub network digital twins and the physical networks to automate operational tasks for customized network deployments, invoking WaveSuite open applications at various stages in the workflow.

Network automation with prediction

The network automation with prediction demo showcased the WaveSuite Network Insight, Health and Analytics, and Optimizer applications, together with the SDN control capabilities of the Nokia Network Services Platform (NSP). Automation workflows demonstrated the ability to streamline operations between SDN-ready IP and optical networks in two scenarios:

  • If congestion is predicted in the IP network, automatically identify and deploy the best option for extracting more optical network capacity to support the IP network.
  • If wavelength performance degradation is predicted, automatically identify and deploy the best option for rerouting or optimizing the wavelength.

The resulting workflows provided automation that would reduce network total cost of ownership (TCO) by having IP and optical networks work together to ensure service quality and availability. They would avoid potential service-impacting issues by using predictive algorithms to proactively detect and resolve them.

Wavelength optimization for maximum network performance

The wavelength optimization demo showed how the WaveSuite Network Insight Optimizer application can dynamically optimize wavelength performance to take advantage of advances in coherent wavelength modulation formats, together with Colorless Directionless Contentionless – Flexgrid (CDC-F) wavelength routing. These capabilities enable network operators to move away from defining beginning-of-life (BOL) network infrastructure based on worst-case, end-of-life (EOL) fiber infrastructure parameters and embrace a continuous “learn and optimize” approach that adapts to approaching EOL conditions.

WavePrime professional services developed workflows to safely optimize wavelengths for maximum performance based on current network conditions. This enabled the deployment of higher-capacity wavelengths. The workflows also included an option to defragment wavelength spectrum throughout a network. The results increased wavelength capacity and freed up wavelength spectrum, both of which will enable operators to lower network TCO and prepare their networks to react faster to service demands.

Service lifecycle automation

Our OFC 2020 service lifecycle automation demo focused on how our WaveSuite Service Enablement application can rapidly fulfill and assure optical services throughout a hierarchical optical service business value chain that extends from the physical network operator to its customers and its customers’ customers. For example, a physical network operator can use software modeled around this hierarchy to quickly advertise and distribute capacity to internal business units and external partners through ready-to-go customer web portals.

This demo showed how the web portals can make it easy to fulfill and assure services and monetize capacity. Open APIs to the Service Enablement application also enable dynamic service operation. Operators can use these APIs to take advantage of workflow automation tools that accelerate the deployment of new revenue-generating services by easing back-office integration tasks.

Get ready for automation made easy

Have we reached the point where optical network engineers can use non-programmer automation environments to quickly and easily develop their own workflows and applications? The potential is there. For now, Nokia WavePrime professional services and the Nokia WaveHub innovation environment are ready to help optical network operators address their automation goals.

Learn more about automating optical networks

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokia or @nokianetworks using #optical

Scott Larrigan

About Scott Larrigan

Scott is responsible for marketing Nokia's ION portfolio, including solutions for optical networks, microwave, and mobile backhaul.  Scott has been supporting an IP packet over optical network evolution and the optimization of mobile networks to support 4G/LTE and 5G over a common packet optical network.

Scott has over 20 years experience in the telecom industry with roles ranging from marketing, business development, product management, and R&D. He holds a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree, specializing in computer science, from the University of Manitoba in Canada. He also is a co-author of 4 patents related to IP networking technologies.

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