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.