Elematics software provisions optical links

Elematics is introducing software designed to ease the provisioning of optical circuits by talking directly to the network devices and associated management systems.

Called Intelligent Network Control Plane (INCP), the software communicates with network elements and their element management systems to gather data needed to determine which devices are available to support new circuits. That data is passed up to operations support systems (OSS) that can then map in new circuits.

The OSSes pass down a description of the desired new circuit and INCP turns that into commands that reconfigure network devices to activate a new circuit. The software eliminates the need to manually configure devices to provision new optical pathways, the company says.

Current provisioning of optical circuits can take days or weeks if it means that engineers have to examine network elements, design a circuit and then reconfigure devices one at a time to support it.

In order to automate the process, INCP needs to be able to talk to existing devices and OSSes, which means Elematics must write software for each element and OSS that would be involved in creating circuits. So far, the company has written interfaces for optical gear made by Ciena Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Nortel Networks Corp. and ONI Systems Inc. (now part of Ciena). These devices were chosen because they are the most popular and widely deployed in combination with each other in carrier networks, Elematics says.

This group of devices makes it possible to provision optical transport links through the core of provider networks. The company says it plans to extend its set of interfaces to other vendors' gear over time. The goal is to interface with enough elements to provision circuits over metro and access networks as well as core networks, Elematics says. This would include optical cross connects, add-drop multiplexers and optical switches.

It takes about three months to integrate INCP with a vendor's element management software, which would still be required in order to distribute software revisions to devices, Elematics says.

INCP uses generalized multiprotocol label switching (GMPLS) as its control plane logic. GMPLS was devised to isolate the control plane from the data plane in heterogeneous networks that use diversified data planes including packet, time division multiplexing and optical.

By embracing GMPLS, "[INCP} fits into the way vendors and carriers look at network management," says David Krozier, an analyst with RHK. But because GMPLS is still developing, interoperability is uncertain.

"There become islands of management and everybody's system only operates by itself," Krozier says.

An overarching software like INCP interfacing with enough individual vendors' gear can help resolve and connect these islands.

"If you had this in your whole network, this would improve performance," Krozier says.

INCP automatically discovers equipment in providers' networks and creates an inventory of what resources are used and what resources are available. Such inventories are a long-standing shortcoming of service providers, Krozier says.

"Carriers want to get a system in place so what's written in their records matches what's in place in the network," he says.

Price of INCP starts in the six figures. Pricing increases with the number of network elements being managed. It is available now.

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