Since the  introduction of the first Public Switched Telephone Network, networks have  continually evolved. Through the various stages of development—from fixed  endpoints in the early Internet to today’s broadband networks that connect mobile  users to massive data centers and bandwidth behemoths like Netflix, Amazon, and Facebook—networks have adjusted to  accommodate new demands.

The once-static  infrastructure is undergoing a more profound transformation than ever before. The  latest incarnation is autonomous networking, which is a trend that has been  building for some time. The autonomous network runs without much human  intervention. It can configure, monitor and maintain itself independently.

But, even  though it’s a significant advance, autonomous networking is still too  restrictive and too rigid. So Ciena has defined a new approach to the evolution  of networking—the Adaptive Network—that’s geared toward providing a network  that can grow with a company as its business needs and markets change.

The Adaptive  Network is remaking the network into a dynamic, programmable infrastructure  built on analytics and automation.

The Adaptive  Network allows providers to evolve their current infrastructures into more of a  communications loop that relays information from network elements,  instrumentation, users, and applications to a software layer for review,  analysis, and action—rather than bogging down the network itself.

The Adaptive  Network includes three important layers:

  • Programmable  infrastructure: This includes the network’s physical and virtual elements, as well as the telemetry gathered from them. The programmable infrastructure layer is highly intelligent and interprets data so the network can make decisions—whether that means routing traffic around a circuit that's down or investigating and correcting an issue with latency or lower-than-expected capacity on a specific link. Programmable infrastructure requires a flexible grid; a reconfigurable photonic layer to give the ability to reroute channels of variable spectral occupancy across any path, and across any optical spectrum in the network; and telemetry from the IP layer correlated with routing data. In addition, a programmable infrastructure needs tunable coherent transponders to efficiently map a flexible number of client signals to the variable line capacity. In turn, that requires a centralized purpose-built Optical Transport Network (OTN) or packet switching architecture.
  • Analytics  and intelligence: The programmable infrastructure produces significant  amounts of data. Some of it is big data that indicate  trends that the network learns and adjusts for over time. Big data can inform  the network on how to adjust in the long term, which traffic patterns to look  out for, and which parts of the network could be vulnerable. Then there’s small data—things that are happening at  a fairly rapid pace. It could be a flicker on a circuit or an immediate request  from a customer. Such events require a speedy response from the network, and those moves will be made by the analytics. But  once the decisions have been made, a  human operator or pre-defined policies could step in and approve or change  things as necessary. In a truly autonomous network, there would be no operator  influence at this point.
  • Software control  and automation: Research shows the undisputed number one cause of network  outages is human error, with estimates as high as 32 percent, according to  Dimension Data's 2014 Network Barometer report. Effective automation of network tasks, such as loading access controllers and provisioning routers, or automated calculation and configuration of TE tunnels to optimize traffic and relieve congestion, can eliminate those errors and keep the network  running at peak performance. The ability for automation to work across multiple  vendors is critical. Some technologies are good at working with one set of  devices from a single vendor, but few networks are  built on a single vendor’s gear. Networks have to interoperate, using  APIs, to function efficiently and move  data efficiently and swiftly from point to point.

The  development of the Adaptive Network is a watershed  moment for the networking world. It’s a cohesive evolution that supports  all aspects of intelligent automation—such as intent-based  orchestration, analytics, and  programmable domain control. It’s a microservices-based architecture that  delivers extensibility and scale. Plus, it takes a DevOps integration approach  to provide operational and service agility.

The Adaptive Network is a new approach that expands on autonomous networking concepts to transform the static network into a dynamic, programmable environment driven by analytics and intelligence.

Why Ciena?

Ciena’s 25  years of experience connecting the world makes it the perfect partner to  deliver the Adaptive Network.

  • Unmatched  network experience: With more than 1,300 customers worldwide, Ciena  supports 80 percent of the world’s largest network providers. Ciena has  deployed 150 million kilometers of coherent optical networks.
  • Network  provider services: Ciena has designed services specifically to help providers  evolve their networks. Ciena’s approach supports the complete network  lifecycle, with consulting, solution practices, and services oriented around  the needs of providers.
  • Partners: Ciena augments its value with a vibrant partner program that evolves and  develops offerings and expertise to enable all aspect of the Adaptive Network.

Ciena’s  unmatched product portfolio supports the Adaptive Network in a number of important ways. Critical components  of the programmable infrastructure, analytics and automation layers  include:

  • WaveLogic  Ai: The next generation of Ciena’s industry-leading WaveLogic coherent  technology fundamentally changes how optical networks are built and managed.  WaveLogic Ai enables tunable capacity, from 100G to 400G, in 50G  increments—giving you previously unattainable control over your network.
  • WaveLogic  Photonics: Ciena’s fully instrumented, intelligent  photonic system includes WaveLogic coherent optics and flexible line  elements that, combined with embedded and discrete software tools, offer  superior automation, control, and visibility of optical networks.
  • 6500 and  Waveserver® platforms: Ciena’s flexible platform architectures provide efficient  matching of client services to line capacity.
  • Blue  Planet Manage, Control and Plan (MCP) domain controller: Ciena brings the  power of software-defined programmability to your next-gen Ciena network and  service operations. MCP eliminates manual, time-consuming, error-prone steps  between multiple, separate management tools and provides the Blue Planet  foundation from which you can evolve your operations to drive closed-loop  intelligent automation across multi-vendor multi-domains.
  • Blue Planet Multi-domain       Service Orchestrator (MDSO): Provides       software-control for automating service delivery across multi-vendor and       multi-technology networks, and integrates with Blue Planet Analytics and       MCP to support self-healing and self-optimizing (closed-loop) capabilities       powered by big data insights.
  • Openness: Ciena engineers its solutions to give network providers the ability to  customize their infrastructure to their precise needs. Openness drives every  innovation that Ciena delivers to the market. For example, by utilizing APIs and  modern data models at both the hardware and software layers, Ciena’s open APIs enable  better real-time network telemetry and measurement. The APIs provide faster,  easier, and multi-platform/multi-vendor application development, easy  integration with IT tools, and more efficient IT resource utilization.
  • Security: The Adaptive Network is built on a holistic approach to security that protects  in-flight data with purpose-built solutions created to the highest security  cryptography standards available. Ciena also provides a dedicated portal that  gives users complete control over security key management.