Firms Work on Standard to Provision Optical Nets

When it comes to provisioning high-speed connections in switched optical networks, vendors need a standard way for their gear to cooperate.

A new consortium made up of some 50 vendors, including Williams Communications and Siemens, is hoping to do just that. Specifically, the Optical Domain Service Interconnect (OSDI) consortium has set a goal of writing a protocol by year-end that will let equipment made by one vendor provision bandwidth in the networks of optical switches made by other vendors.

The group will define an ODSI protocol that will give routers and switches the ability to set up light circuits across optical backbones. Optical nets use light to transfer data. As these edge devices recognize traffic patterns and the requirement for more bandwidth through the optical core, they will be able to set up new connections.

The protocol could also be used to give carrier customers the ability to provision extra bandwidth within seconds to meet their needs. Without such a protocol, setting up optical light paths would have to be done by hand by a network manager overseeing the optical switches -- a more time-consuming process.

"If carriers want to keep customers, they can't make them wait 60 days to turn up a new T-1," says Sean Welch, vice president of marketing and sales for Tenor Networks, a member of the vendor group.

ODSI is being pushed by Sycamore Networks, which makes core optical switches.

The standard will allow dynamic and automatic provisioning of light streams across a core network of Sycamore switches, says Jeff Kiel, vice president of product marketing for Sycamore.

Such provisioning will allow customers to buy high bandwidth for short-term use, such as a high-definition video transmission that a television network might need. The provisioning will also make it possible for routers and switches to automatically book more bandwidth when they see bursts in demand.

The ODSI group plans to submit its standard proposal to formal standards bodies by year-end. The goal is to have equipment in production networks using the protocol by the end of 2001, Kiel says.

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More about ProvisionSiemensSycamore NetworksTenor NetworksWilliams Communications

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