Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 40

Expert Series

Optical Transport
Expert Series:
What you need
to know after
you know
it all.

by Paul Littlewood
Fady Masoud

Experts Guide to Optical Transport Networks:

Optical Transport Networking

by Paul Littlewood
Fady Masoud
with Earl Follis

Optical Transport Networking

Published by
7035 Ridge Rd.
Hanover, MD 21076
Copyright 2014 by Ciena Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording, scanning or otherwise, without the prior written permission of Ciena Corporation. For information regarding permission, write to: Ciena Experts Books 7035
Ridge Rd Hanover, MD 21076.
Trademarks: Ciena, all Ciena logos, and other associated marks and logos are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Ciena Corporation both within and outside
the United States of America, and may not be used without written permission.
Manufactured in the United States of America

Publishers Acknowledgments
Were proud of this book; please send us your comments at expertbooks@ciena.com
Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:
Editorial, and Senior Project Editor: Erin Malone
Source Material: Barbara DePompa
Layout and Graphics: Kevin Brubaker, Clark Design, Axis41
Editor: Kim Lindros

Executive Summary........................................................................................ 7
Introduction: OTN Fundamentals................................................................. 9
What Makes OTN Essential?....................................................................... 11
Key OTN Benefits......................................................................................... 11
Key Drivers in the Transition to OTN.......................................................... 13
OTN as the Successor to SONET and SDH............................................... 14
OTN Values................................................................................................... 15
OTN Architecture......................................................................................... 16
OTN Bit Rates............................................................................................... 20
OTN Multiplexing Hierarchy........................................................................ 21
Forward Error Correction (FEC)................................................................... 22
OTN Network Fit.......................................................................................... 22
Transforming Network Economics with OTN............................................. 23
Control Plane Compatibility and Features................................................. 28
OTN Market Acceptance............................................................................. 32
Use Cases...................................................................................................... 33
Use Case 1: Bandwidth Grooming (Sub-wavelength) on
40G/100G Backbones.................................................................................. 33
Use Case 2: Network Path Optimization.................................................... 33
Use Case 3: Core Router Offload................................................................ 34
Real-World OTN Selection Case................................................................. 34
Conclusion.................................................................................................... 36
Why Ciena?................................................................................................... 36
OTN Glossary of Acronyms......................................................................... 39

Executive Summary
The adoption of Optical Transport Network (OTN) technology continues
to gain momentum in the market. This is attributable to the significant
leap forward in optical network technology that OTN represents and the
waning fortunes of SONET/SDH networking. Though this Experts Guide
is an in-depth look at the technical underpinnings and architecture of
OTN networks, its important to remember that OTN technology can
solve business challenges for Cienas customers by increasing the performance of their networks while saving money, lowering latency, increasing
network manageability and paving the way for the network to embrace
Cloud and Software Defined Networking. These aspects are described
in this guide.
Advantages of OTN
OTN offers a number of advantages over legacy transport networks,
and this guide details on these advantages in describing how they
can be leveraged to provide carriers and service providers with topperformance optical networking, reduced costs and a broader service
catalog. Benefits include:
Reduction in transport costs
Efficient use of optical spectrum
Virtualized network operations
Flexibility in network architecture, design and performance
Inherent security
Robust yet simple operations
Whats Driving the Adoption of OTN?
When SONET/SDH was originally architected in the early 1990s, data
and voice networks were designed and built separately. But almost
immediately, SONET/SDH was being used to combine data and voice
traffic onto a single transport network, with data network elements
adopting voice transport protocols and interfaces. Adaptations were
developed to map data traffic over SONET/SDH frames so carriers
could use SONET/SDH networks, but this proved increasingly inefficient,
because voice and data payloads are constructed at significantly
different rates. The industry learned that OTN must be designed to

provide data transport in a format native to data networking. This meant

fixed frame sizes instead of the fixed frame rates inherent in SONET/
SDH. This fundamental change helps IP-based traffic to map into
OTN much more efficiently than SONET/SDH. This tight integration of
Internet Protocol (IP) and OTN via Ethernet is much more appropriate to
the modern mix of networking protocols and traffic. The 40 Gigabits per
second (Gb/s) line rate cap of SONET/SDH is no longer a barrier to data
rate increases.
Network Modernization and Migration
OTN represents both a technical leap forward in optical networking and
a business opportunity for carriers and service providers. OTN allows
carriers and service providers to evolve to a mesh overlay combining
SONET/SDH, Ethernet and OTN payloads, providing an effective means
to build a modernized infrastructure but still carry legacy traffic. This
architectural flexibility preserves existing investments in legacy transport
while providing SONET/SDH access to 100 Gb/s lines and beyond.
Selective upgrading, or capping and growing, allows service providers
to evolve their networks in stages to avoid a costly disruption to core
services or all-at-once upgrade challenges.
Competitive Advantages of OTN
Opportunities abound for overcoming bandwidth, latency, and
management hurdles by implementing converged networks of OTN
and SONET/SDH. However, the real competitive advantage for Cienas
customers is the adoption of OTN to seamlessly handle Ethernet and
data center protocols through the network edges and cores, optimizing
existing investments in routing interfaces, eliminating router hops, and
minimizing network latency. OTN is the technology platform upon which
Ciena delivers connection-oriented Ethernet traffic to ensure consistent,
high-throughput, low-latency delivery at the most economical price point
of any optical networking technology.

Introduction: OTN Fundamentals

Telecommunications industry and service provider networks are quickly
evolving to deal with an explosion of digital traffic driven by multimedia
services, mobile applications, social media, Voice-over-Internet Protocol
(VoIP), and cloud computing, and an ever-growing array of bandwidthhungry applications. For decades, service provider network traffic
was dominated by voice calls, in which traffic was carried over circuitbased networks in a predictable network connection between pairs
of endpoints. Most network traffic today is packet-based, generated
by a multitude of services and applications in bursty, unpredictable
traffic patterns with widely varying demands on bandwidth and data
transmission performance. Service provider networks that were once
optimized for voice traffic are now in need of a new transport technology
that can handle modern network traffic patterns and content.
Previous-generation transport technologies, such as Synchronous
Optical Networking (SONET) and Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH),
were not designed for packet-dominated, high-capacity services
requiring transmission capacities of 40 Gb/s and above. With this in
mind, visionaries in the telecommunications industry created OTN,
Optical Transport Network, which is standardized by the International
Telecommunications Union (ITU) as G.709.
Networks employing OTN technology are designed and optimized
to support current applications employing massive network capacity,
and OTN is increasingly recognized as the transport standard of
choice to meet the growing demand for network capacity. The ITU
Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) defines OTN in a set
of standards, with the G.709 specification acting as the core technology
definition. The ITU-T standards cover the encapsulation format,
multiplexing, switching, management, supervision, and survivability of
optical channels carrying client payloads. OTN also provides the ability
to measure network performance across multiple service providers
domains and to provide seamless, end-to-end monitored services.
Although its now common to link OTN and Ethernet technologies,
OTN was not originally created to work specifically with Ethernet. In
fact, OTN was developed to manage Wavelength Division Multiplexing
(WDM) wavelengths with SONET/SDH as the client payload, given the
wide deployment of SONET/SDH at the time. OTN was also intended

to support a manageable wholesaled wavelength infrastructure. It is this

original use case from which the capability of full payload transparency
originated. By 2009, it was clear that the majority of traffic carried by
OTN would be Ethernet-based, so OTN standards were enhanced to
closely align with Ethernet traffic characteristics.
Often referred to as a digital wrapper, OTN allows one or more
different services to be transparently carried over a wavelength,
each with its own full set of monitoring capabilities. Initially
standardized in 1998, the adoption of OTN has steadily grown
in the telecommunications carrier market. OTN initially provided
an optical backbone for transparent carriage of SONET and SDH
payloads; extended SONET/SDH-like Operations, Administration,
and Maintenance (OAM); as well as Fault, Configuration, Accounting,
Performance, and Security (FCAPS) capabilities to client payloads
such as Ethernet, Fibre Channel (FC), ESCON, and digital video.
OTN provides robust OAM features for WDM networks, including
performance monitoring, fault detection, Forward Error Correction
(FEC), embedded communications channels, latency measuring, and a
standard mapping structure for multiplexing low-rate signals onto highspeed payloads.
In the 2009 update, G.709 was enhanced to more tightly integrate with
Ethernet data rates and packet formats. As a result, OTN and Ethernet
are now inseparable in most networks. This symbiotic relationship makes
OTN the ideal protocol for transport of Ethernet over Dense Wavelength
Division Multiplexing (DWDM) networks.
Industry observers anticipate strong OTN growth in the next few years.
According to Infonetics Research,1 a respected analyst firm in the
telecommunications industry, the OTN market was approximately $8
billion in 2013 and is expected to grow to $13 billion by 2017. Thats a
13 percent compound annual growth ratefaster than the projected
growth in the general optical networking market. Infonetics further
expects OTN switching to eventually become a de facto standard for
WDM networks: 89 percent of carriers surveyed have implemented or
intend to implement OTN switching by 2016.

Infonetics Research, OTN and Packet-Optical Hardware - Biannual Worldwide Market
Share, Size, and Forecasts, March 2014


What Makes OTN Essential?

When it comes to network infrastructures capable of carrying diverse and
data-rich traffic, OTN delivers the high-speed, high-bandwidth networking
and intelligence that carriers and their customers must have for optimum
efficiency. OTN is recognized as the only optical technology defined
to encapsulate the high-capacity payloads needed by packet-network
entities such as Ethernet switches and routers. Critically, OTN is also the
only optical transport protocol that currently scales beyond 40 Gb/s.
To keep pace with a continually growing demand for high-performance
networks, organizations increasingly realize they must work to
modernize and transform network operations. For the foreseeable
future, bandwidth growth is unlikely to subside. In long-haul networks,
the current highest OTN container (OTU4) can accommodate 100
Gigabit Ethernet (100GbE). The IEEE has already started to define rates
for Ethernet above 100 Gb/s, and it is expected that OTN capable
of carrying 400 Gb/s payloads will be required sometime in the 2015
timeframe, with 1 terabit per second (Tb/s) payloads projected to be in
use before 2020.
OTN offers specific benefits in backbone and metro core networks, thanks
to the complementary nature of IP and OTN. OTN-based IP backbones
and metro cores offer significant advantages over traditional WDM-based
networks, including increased efficiency, reliability around 99.999 percent,
and wavelengthbased private services. The combination of IP over OTN
also offers better management and monitoring, reduced hops, protection
of services, and reduced costs for equipment acquisition. In addition to
scaling the network to 100G and beyond, OTN plays a key role in making
the network an open and programmable platform, making it possible for
transport to become as important as computing and storage in intelligent
data center networking.
Key OTN Benefits
OTN wraps each client payload transparently into a container for
transport across optical networks, preserving the clients native structure,
timing information, and management information. This means that any
client, storage device, mainframe, digital video, Ethernet, SONET/SDH,
OTN, wavelength, full-rate 10GbE, and more can be mapped onto an
OTN wavelength.


This technological adaptability makes OTN a fitting platform upon

which organizations modernize their networks. By supporting legacy
technologies such as SONET or SDH running concurrently with other
clients on the same network infrastructure, organizations can gracefully
transition to OTN in phases, without requiring wholesale replacement of
the underlying optical network infrastructure.
Primary advantages of OTN include:
 eduction in transport costs: By allowing multiple clients
to be transported on a single wavelength, OTN provides an
economical mechanism to fill optical network wavelengths.
Efficient use of optical spectrum: OTN facilitates efficient use
of DWDM capacity by ensuring fill rates are maintained across a
network using OTN switches at fiber junctions.
Determinism: OTN dedicates specific and configurable
bandwidth to each service, group of services, or each network
partition. This means that network capacity and managed
performance (throughput, latency, jitter, and availability) are
guaranteed for each client, and there is no contention between
concurrent services or users.
Virtualize network operations: The ability to partition an OTNswitched network into private network partitions, also referred
to as Optical Virtual Private Networks (O-VPNs), provides a
dedicated set of network resources to a client, independent
of the rest of the network. Each network tenant sees only the
resources associated with that tenants private partition. Other
resources associated with other tenants will not be visible.
O-VPNs also ease network evolution because network upgrades
can be tested or introduced in a protected network partition
or sandbox, without the risk of impacting day-to-day network
operations in production partitions.
Flexibility: OTN networks give operators the ability to employ
the technologies needed now to support transport demands
while enabling operators to adopt new technologies as business
requirements dictate.
Secure by design: OTN networks ensure a high level of privacy
and security through hard partitioning of traffic onto dedicated
circuits. This segregation of network traffic makes it difficult to
intercept data transferred between nodes over OTN-channelized
links. And because OTN-switched networks keep all applications

and tenants separate, organizations can effectively stop hackers

who access one part of the network from gaining access to other
parts of the network.
Robust yet simple operations: OTN network management
data is carried on a separate channel, completely isolated from
user application data. This means OTN network settings are
much more difficult to access and modify by gaining admittance
through a client interface port.
No other technological solution allows operators to turn up new services
faster and more efficiently while removing the cost of uncertainty from
the future traffic mix. The advent of billions of networkconnected
consumer devices, and advances in the way content is delivered to users
around the world, are generating demand for OTN solutions that makes
this technology essential for next-generation networks.
Key Drivers in the Transition to OTN
Networks continually evolve, transforming to meet ever-growing
bandwidth and service requirements. The introduction of SONET and
SDH standards in the early 1990s enabled robust and efficient transport
of voice traffic over long distances, along with greater interoperability
among carriers. WDM further increased network capacity by allowing
multiple wavelengths to be carried on the same fiber. The reliability,
capacity, and efficiency of SONET/SDH optical networks have set the
standard since then.
By the mid-1990s, operators started to use SONET/SDH networks to
carry data services such as Ethernet and Asynchronous Transfer Mode
(ATM), primarily to avoid the need to operate two separate networks
one dedicated to voice and another dedicated to data. Transport
network elements introduced technologies to map data traffic over
SONET/SDH frames. Ethernet Inverse Multiplexing (mapping 10Base-T
traffic into VT 1.5s) and Packet-over-SONET (mapping GbE over an OC48/STM-16), among other solutions, became available. More protocols
were introduced, such as Contiguous Concatenation (CCAT) and Virtual
Concatenation (VCAT), which allow service providers to carry large
capacity data payloads distributed over smaller SONET/SDH containers
(STS-1/VC-4). VCAT provides for greater flexibility, enabling SONET/SDH
containers to be transported or routed independently.


Since then, network traffic has increased exponentially, outgrowing the

capacities of SONET and SDH.
After nearly 25 years since the introduction of SONET and SDH,
the evolution of SONET and SDH standards has ceased, and the
majority of SONET/SDH equipment is reaching its planned end
of life. Considering the limited future usefulness of SONET and
SDH hardware, most optical networking vendors have ceased
major platform investments in SONET/SDH products. Support
contracts between service providers and equipment vendors are
becoming difficult to renew because many component parts have
been discontinued by the manufacturers. Moreover, SONET/SDH
is increasingly cumbersome. Client line rates continue to rise while
technical limitations in the SONET/SDH standards have capped
network capacity at 40 Gb/s (OC-768/STM-256).
Modern applications place increasing demands on the network and
are becoming much more sophisticated and network dependent. High
levels of performance, manifested as fast protection switching, low/
zero packet loss, and other features, are key to ensuring the proper
functioning of critical applications. Payloads such as Ethernet between
data centers, native video between production centers, and synchronous
storage traffic need careful treatment and typically very high capacity
and robustness in the network.
Along with stringent performance demands, high availability is also
crucial to many applications and the industries they serve. The current
business climate simultaneously puts a significant amount of pressure
on service providers to increase top-line revenue while reducing capital
and operational expenses. And fierce competition is shaping service
providers strategies in their quest to increase customer loyalty, tap into
new revenue streams, and optimize day-to-day operations.
OTN as the Successor to SONET and SDH
Although OTN and SONET/SDH have similarities, there are also
some significant design differences (see Table 1). Perhaps the biggest
difference is that SONET was defined with fixed frame rates, while OTN
was defined with fixed frame sizes.


Table 1: Comparison of SONET and OTN



Asynchronous mapping of payloads

Synchronous mapping of payloads

Timing distribution not required

Requires tight timing distribution

across networks

Designed to operate on multiple

wavelengths (DWDM)

Designed to operate on multiple


Scales to 100 Gb/s (and beyond)

Scales to a maximum of 40 Gb/s

Performs single-stage multiplexing

Performs multi-stage multiplexing

Uses a variable frame size and

increases the frame size as client size

Uses a fixed frame rate for a given line

rate and increases frame size (or uses
concatenation of multiple frames) as
client size increases

FEC sized for error correction to

correct 16 blocks per frame

Not applicable (no standardized FEC)

The G.709 standard defines client payload encapsulation, OAM

overhead, FEC, and a multiplexing hierarchy. These functions deliver
optical transport capabilities as robust and manageable as SONET/SDH,
but with greater suitability for current traffic demands, and data center
interconnection circuits in particular.
OTN is asynchronous and thus does not require the complex and costly
timing distribution and verification of SONET/SDH. Instead, OTN
includes per-service timing adjustments to carry both asynchronous
(GbE, ESCON) and synchronous (OC-3/12/48, STM-1/4/16, SDI)
services. OTN can additionally multiplex these services into a common
Like SONET/SDH, OTN also offers comprehensive OAM, but with
standardized FEC. OAM is used to efficiently manage network resources
and services. FEC enables service providers to extend the distance
between optical repeaters, reducing expenses and simplifying network
OTN Values
There are practical and technical drivers behind customer migrations
from SONET/SDH to OTN. OTN is the logical choice for a


next-generation optical network that offers 100 Gb/s speeds today,

while maintaining support for legacy SONET/SDH devices during the
transition period. Other technical advantages of OTN include:
OTN provides deterministic and simple service delivery:
Stringent service requirements cannot be met without
ensuring deterministic service delivery. OTN builds a
guaranteed delivery infrastructure in which every bit that
enters a network is delivered according to a contracted
Service Level Agreement (SLA). Premium services can be
supplied and monitored using a simple operational model
over a survivable OTN-switched network.
OTN provides private, highly secured network services: OTN
offers dedicated and secure connectivity over direct links or
virtual networks by physically isolating each customers missioncritical traffic from the rest of the network. OTN links can
also be encrypted at wire-speed for further protection from
intruders. When coupled with a control plane, OTN enables
self-healing restoration and the ability to survive multiple
simultaneous failures, thus preventing massive and widespread
service outages in the aftermath of network disruptions or
natural disasters.
OTN Architecture
The OTN wrapper is made up of several components that constitute the
hierarchy depicted in Figure 1 for overhead communication between
network nodes. The Optical Transport Module (OTM) is the structure
transported across the optical line interface. It has two parts: a digital
section and an analog section.
The Optical channel Payload Unit (OPU) contains the payload frames.
The service layer represents the end-user services such as GbE, SONET,
SDH, FC, or any other protocol. For transparently mapped services such
as ESCON, GbE, or FC, the service is passed through a Generic Framing
Procedure (GFP) mapper.
The Optical channel Data Unit (ODUk, where k = 1/2/2e/3/3e2/4)
contains the OPU plus overhead such as BIP8, GCC1, TCM, and so on.
The Optical Transport Unit (OTUk, where k = 1/2/2e/3/3e2/4) contains
the ODU, provides the section-level overhead such as BIP8, and


OTN Values in a Nutshell

OTN allows the network to be an open and programmable

Enables a smooth transition from circuit to packetbased
Underpins emerging and high-performance network-level
OTN reduces the cost of network operations:
Improves wavelength efficiency up to 78 percent to
minimize WAN link requirements
Simplifies planning for IT upgrades/changes
Decreases dependence on specialized technical skills
OTN improves network application performance:
Provides dedicated bandwidth to eliminate contention
Minimizes latency and jitter
Uses carrier-grade Performance Monitoring (PM) to
guarantee delivery per service specification
OTN supports integration of multiple applications:
Carries any combination of service types on single or
multiple wavelengths
Seamlessly interfaces with any client device (router, Ethernet
switch, SAN Director, SONET terminal, and others)
OTN supports business continuity:
Circuit performance for data and storage clients
Comprehensive PM to ensure adherence to SLA
requirements across nested networks
OTN easily integrates geographically dispersed locations:
Service-level grooming, which allows per-service add/drop
at any location
Broadcasting centralized application instance to multiple
locations, using drop-and-continue
Single-ended management from a remote Network
Operations Center (NOC)


supports the General Communication Channel (GCC) bytes for overhead

communication between network nodes. The GCC is used for OAM
functions such as performance monitoring, fault detection, and signaling
and maintenance commands in support of protection switching,
fault sectionalization, service-level reporting, and control plane
communications. The physical layer maps the OTU into a wavelength
and the Optical Channel (OCh), which runs across the optical line. Figure
1 shows the OTM hierarchy for overhead communication between
network nodes.
An Optical Multiplex Section (OMS) sits between two devices and can
multiplex wavelengths onto a fiber, as shown in Figure 2. An Optical
Transmission Section (OTS) consists of the fiber between anything that
performs an optical function on the signal. An Erbium-Doped Fiber
Amplifier (EDFA) counts as line amplifying equipment. OTN offers six
levels of tandem connection monitoring that enable a network operator
to monitor a signal as it passes through other operators networks. This
functional breakdown aids in fault management, as OTN overhead is
rigorously aligned with these points.

Figure 1: Optical Transport Module (OTM)








Figure 2: OTN Line Structure Breakdown

Figure 3 illustrates how different services are mapped onto

common wavelengths (an OCh always contains a single OTU),
thereby providing for sub-wavelength bandwidth management
and decoupling of service rates from the line rate. OTN includes
per-service timing adjustments to carry both asynchronous and
synchronous (OC-3/12/48, STM-1/4/16, SDI) services, which may share
a common wavelength.





1GbE Video


Figure 3: OTN Supports Different Types of Services over the Same Wavelength


A cornerstone of OTN is transparency. Transparent payloads, a

transparent multiplex hierarchy, and transparent timing are all inherent
OTN features. OTNs transparency enables the transport of any service
without interfering with the client payload, OAM, or timing. This is
important when offering wholesale services for third-party providers and
for connecting equipment that may utilize the client OAM for overhead
communications. Note that OTN is a single global standard adopted
without modification worldwide.
OTN Bit Rates
OTN rates are equal to or higher than the bit rates of the client traffic.
There are basically two types of mappings into an ODU: transparent
and non-transparent. Transparent maps the complete client payload
into an ODU (so the OTN rate is higher than the client rate), whereas
non-transparent mapping removes some of the client signal overhead
to conserve network capacity. More ODUs can be mapped into an OTU
using this mapping strategy. Some key OTN line rates defined by the
G.709 standard are listed in Table 2, and Table 3 lists the standardized
ODUk rates of G.709. Additional rates are in development in the ITU for
more clients and faster lines.

Table 2: Standard OTN Line Rates


Approximate data
rate (Gb/s)

Optimized for



SONET OC-48 or SDH STM-16 signal




SONET OC-192 or SDH STM-64 or

10GbE Wide Area Network (WAN)
physical layer (PHY) transport



10GbE Local Area Network (LAN) PHY

transport (for IP/Ethernet switches/
routers ports) at full line rate (10.3 Gb/s)



SONET OC-768 or SDH STM-256 or

40GbE signal transport



Transport of up to four OTU2e signals



100GbE signal transport


Table 3: Standard ODUk Rates


Data rate (Gb/s)

Optimized for



Transport of a timing transparent

transcoded (compressed) 1000BASE-X
signal or packets over GFP



Transport of two ODU0 signals or a

STS-48/STM-16 signal or packets over



Transport of up to eight ODU0 signals

or up to four ODU1 signals or a STS192/STM-64 signal or a WAN PHY or
packets over GFP



Transport of a 10GbE signal or

a timing transparent transcoded
(compressed) 10G Fibre Channel



Transport of up to 32 ODU0 signals

or up to 16 ODU1 signals or up to
four ODU2 signals or a STS-768/STM256 signal or a timing transparent
transcoded 40GbE signal or packets
over GFP



Transport of up to four ODU2e signals



Transport of up to 80 ODU0 signals

or up to 40 ODU1 signals or up to
ten ODU2 signals or up to two ODU3
signals or a 100GbE signal

ODUflex (CBR)


ODUflex (GFP)

Any configured rate

/238 x client bit rate Transport of a constant bitrate signal

such as Fibre Channel 8 GFC or
Infiniband or video
Transport of packets over GFP

OTN Multiplexing Hierarchy

OTN supports single- and multi-step multiplexing into higher containers
at the ODU level, as depicted in Figure 4, which shows an abridged
hierarchical view. For example, four ODU1s can be multiplexed into an
OPU2. An OPU3 can contain a multiplexing of four ODU2s, 16 ODU1s,
or a mixture of ODU1s and ODU2s. Figure 4 also shows that OTN
supports both Low Order (LO) and High Order (HO) mapping. LO is









Any bit rate


10G, 10GbE










ODUflex: an interger number of tributary slots

of an OPUk (OPU2, OPU3, OPU4)










Figure 4: OTN Mapping Hierarchy

used when a client signal does not need further aggregation within
the optical carrier (wavelength), and HO is used when sub-wavelength
grooming and/or multiplexing is required. Note that 10G refers to a line
rate, regardless of the type of traffic being transported, while 10GbE
refers to Ethernet traffic operating at 10Gb/s.
Forward Error Correction (FEC)
One of the key advantages of OTN is its support of FEC in the OTU
frame, which is standardized in ITU G.975. This overhead is added to
the last part of the frame before it gets scrambled for transmission. FEC
has proved to be efficient in correcting a very high number of errors in
transmission due to noise or other impairments present in high-capacity
transmissions. The standard FEC uses a Reed-Solomon RS (255/239)
coding technique, in which 239 bytes are required to compute a 16-byte
parity check. Allowing service providers to extend the distance between
optical repeaters, FEC helps reduce both capital and operational
expenses while simplifying the network topography by being able to
skip amplifier sites.
OTN Network Fit
Figure 5 highlights where OTN fits hierarchically in network
infrastructures. Depending on the specified service, some IP and IT
services require routing. The output from the router layer is passed to



IP-based consumer &

enterprise services

Private connectivity
Service routing
forwarding based on
global IP address

IP Internetworking
MPLS (optional)



Ethernet Encapsulation


OTN Encapsulation

Agile Photonic Layer

Sub-lambda bandwidth
management agile
virtual wavelength layer,
decouples service rates
from line rates
High-bandwidth agile
photonic connections

Figure 5: OTN Fit with Other Network Layers

the transport infrastructure to improve transport efficiency, as described

previously. Other services not requiring routing, such as the private
services in the figure, pass directly to the transport switching layer for
carriage directly across the OTN infrastructure. The core function of each
layer in the hierarchy is highlighted on the right side of the figure.
Transforming Network Economics with OTN
The key capabilities OTN delivers can be used to reshape the economics
of high-capacity networks. Some significant use cases and applications
of OTN are described as follows:

Private line connection: One of the main contributors to a
service providers top line is high-capacity private lines (OC-192,
wavelength). They are well established, highly profitable, and,
most importantly, they remain solid, growing network performers.
Recent studies from Infonetics and Insight Research estimate
these services are growing at a double-digit Compound Annual
Growth Rate (CAGR) and accounted for $98 billion in 2013. OTN
matches the SLA requirements of these services and lowers the
cost of transporting high-capacity private line services through
efficient bandwidth utilization. Many private line clients may be
transported on the same wavelength if capacity allows.


 ultiplexing/switching for 40G/100G lines: For years, service
providers have used OTN dedicated wavelength point-to-point
links to interconnect client equipment. These have employed
either transponder- or muxponder-based network elements.
Despite the simplicity of this approach, it can prematurely
exhaust network resources (ports, bandwidth, fiber, and so on)
because of sub-optimal capacity fill across a network. After
periods of service churn or network upgrade, it might also lead
to bandwidth fragmentation, resulting in even lower network
utilization. Introduction of OTN switches into networks can
improve wavelength fill and periodically be used to reduce
fragmentation through grooming of OTN payloads at key
locations across networks.
Adding OTN switching to an existing OTN transport network is a
relatively smooth process that offers a quick return on investment. When
OTN switching is added, organizations can stop using manual fiber
connections for capacity grooming; bandwidth management is more
efficient and less costly in a switch.
Increasingly, customers are buying services such as 10GbE private
lines, which are clearly less than the capacity of 100 Gb/s lines. These
services have been typically fulfilled using transponders or muxponders
connected to a dedicated optical line using a single wavelength or
multiple wavelengths. Muxponders are deployed on a service-pair
(demand-pair) basis, as shown in Figure 6.
Because the optical lines are dedicated, the service is inflexible and
results in underutilized hardware and stranded bandwidth. These
hard-wired connections are extremely labor-intensive for engineering
and operations, and often require truck rolls for maintenance or circuit
By utilizing OTN switching at hub sites, as shown in Figure 7, backto-back multiplexers can be eliminated while reducing the number
of wavelengths required. The introduction of OTN switching at
Reconfigurable Optical Add/Drop Multiplexer (ROADM) locations
enables automated grooming of services and a reduction in the number
of required wavelengths due to sharing of common capacity.


Back-to-back transponders
Physical connection

Wavelength connection

Muxponder endpoint

Figure 6: Transponder/Muxponder Architecture

OTN switching also allows for efficient bandwidth utilization by

eliminating fragmentation, and it maintains higher wavelength fill under
traffic churn. Because the wavelengths are highly utilized, the DWDM
line systems are optimized, deferring premature network over-builds, as

OTN switching at hub sites to

eliminate back-to-back muxponders
Physical connection

Wavelength connection

Muxponder endpoint

Figure 7: Introduction of OTN Switching at ROADM Locations


Deployed Wavelengths



OTN Aggregation/







Recovered 40%
of the bandwidth


Figure 8: Reduction in Wavelength Consumption Using OTN Switching

shown in Figure 8. Bandwidth optimization is mandatory as wavelength

rates progress beyond 100G to 400G and 1 Tb/s.
Increased network capacity: OTN provides managed growth
to 100 Gb/s and beyond. This allows service providers to scale
their networks or expand their service offerings without network
re-engineering or massive capital investments. With 40 Gb/s
and 100 Gb/s links, service providers can turn up services faster,
reduce the cost per bit of service delivery, and provide relief to
bandwidth-constrained fiber spans.
Enhanced end-to-end service monitoring: OTN includes traffic
monitoring solutions native to the protocol, with features such as
Tandem Connection Monitoring (TCM), which allows end-to-end
service monitoring across multiple domains (see Figure 9).
Efficient and lossless switched core: The deterministic nature of
OTN ensures there is no degradation of traffic across the network.
This allows service providers to implement an inherently lossless
packet core. Packet aggregation, with or without over-subscription,
can be performed at the edge as necessary (see Figure 10). Once
sufficient fill is achieved, traffic is mapped to OTN and carried
across the core to its destination at the lowest possible cost.


Figure 9: Tandem Connection Monitoring (TCM) Provides Management Visibility

at Multiple (Nested) Levels

Packet Aggregation
(with or without over-subscription)
OTN Core

Lossless Core
(with dedicated OTN links)
Packet Aggregation
(with or without over-subscription)

Figure 10: Efficient and Lossless Switched Core with OTN




Replacing failing
equipment and
recover spares

Add new links

to extend mesh
Step 1


Step 2




Inefficient ring

OTN mesh
overlay for


Improve space
and power footprint

Add new

Evolution to
intelligent mesh

*End of Life/Manufacturer Discontinued equipment

Figure 11: Ring-to-Mesh Network Modernization Scenario

Network modernization: OTN is recognized by a majority of

carriers as the evolutionary path for their SONET/SDH networks.
OTN provides SONET/SDH access to 100 Gb/s lines and acts as
a gateway for legacy transport networks. By selectively upgrading
or capping and growing, service providers can evolve their
networks over multiple stages to avoid any disruption to core
services. An example evolution from inefficient ring interconnect
to mesh overlay to intelligent mesh is shown in Figure 11.
Core IP router express connection: Many operators are already
aware of the much higher cost of switching traffic on a router
as compared to an OTN or Ethernet switch. The extra cost
is attributed to the additional sophistication of router traffic
processing and its management and operations complexity.
Because IP traffic is packet-based, many operators believe
Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) routers are necessary
everywhere in the network, regardless of traffic patterns. OTN
allows the offload of transit IP traffic from core routers, thus
reducing the number of router ports and overall network cost.
This offloading of transit IP can also help providers delay capacity
upgrades. Customer case studies have shown capital cost
reductions of 20 to 60 percent, achieving cash-flow breakeven
within nine months. OTN also lowers Ethernet service delivery
costs through expressing traffic around edge routers while
enhancing service performance and network availability.
Control Plane Compatibility and Features
The value of OTN is multiplied significantly when combined with an
Automatically Switched Optical Network (ASON) or a Generalized MPLS


(GMPLs) control plane. The control plane automates many network

operations such as service turn-up, modification, and tear down;
maintenance planning and execution; and automatic discovery of the
network including network extensions. The control plane also provides
automatic restoration and routing of impacted traffic without human
intervention. Service feature sets can be expanded to support many
options, including various levels of service availability and dynamic
An intelligent mesh solution can reduce service provisioning time from
months to less than an hour. A control plane also makes the network
much more resilient by handling multiple simultaneous failures, which
can raise network availability to the level of six-9s (99.9999 percent).
Some of the key capabilities of the control plane are described as
 utomated network operations: The control plane provides
the intelligence needed to streamline operations by automating
many network operations, leading to faster service turn-up,
better management, and significantly faster service restoration.
The primary functions of the control plane include:
Automated connection management

Automated self-inventory and maintenance

Automated discovery

Automated restoration

Tiered availability: Service providers can now design
customized, tiered service classes from a rich set of available
building blocks, as shown in Figure 12. Options can be
constructed such as restoration time (50ms, 250ms, 500ms), the
number of failures protected against (one or many), and provision
of minimal or no protection for low-priority traffic. Offering
flexible, tiered services helps expand the capability of OTN
to meet the needs of an increasing customer base while also
meeting the requirements of sophisticated applications.
Real-time latency measurement: Complying with a maximum
latency SLA is a key factor in many OTN applications such as data
center interconnection. Latency measurements are native to OTN
and can be used to ensure SLA compliance.


Figure 12: Increase Network Survivability with OTN and Control Plane

Dynamic infrastructure: OTN and the control plane allow the

network to become dynamic and responsive to upper-layer
applications in real time. Emerging services, such as on-demand
or scheduled cloud interconnections in which the control plane
negotiates with the cloud operating system, are possible. The
network operates as a partner with cloud servers and storage
to support new high-value applications, actively providing and
releasing capacity upon the command of the Application layer, as
depicted in Figure 13.

and Services

the network
becomes dynamic
pool of resources


Intelligent Network

Extra Bandwidth

New Connections


Proactive Network

Figure 13: OTN and Control Plane as a Dynamic Pool of Resources for the Cloud


 ptical Virtual Private Networks (O-VPNs): O-VPNs enable
service providers to virtually partition their networks by allowing
specific links, wavelengths, sub-wavelengths, or even nodes to
be dedicated for use by a single customer, such as an enterprise.
As shown in Figure 14, virtual network partitions provide all of
the bandwidth, manageability, and security required, but without
the expense and inflexibility of building a completely separate
dedicated service infrastructure. O-VPNs provide a secure, highbandwidth private network that connects end-user sites with a
flexible, managed virtual infrastructure over fractional, single,
or multiple transparent optical wavelength connections. This is
done with a wide variety of client interfaces, including Ethernet,
OTN, SONET, SDH, Storage Area Networks (SANs), and video. In
addition, O-VPNs provide a virtual infrastructure for end users to
manage their own site-to-site connections, bandwidth allocation,
and circuit protection options within the O-VPN domain.
In Figure 14, as a way to illustrate virtualization, the Enterprise
A partition could provide high-availability mesh-protected
connections to support mission-critical applications for a variety
of packet and storage protocols. The Enterprise B partition may
be established to support cloud services in which customers can
schedule large data transfers required for storage mobility or
virtual machine migrations.

Service Providers

Enterprise A

O-VPN for Enterprise

Enterprise B
Branch Office


Data Center

Figure 14: Optical Virtual Private Networks


Despite O-VPNs being offered across a service providers

network, they provide dedicated bandwidth to connect multiple
end-user sites in a mesh configuration with multiple parallel line
rates available, while maintaining full separation of user traffic
and restoration bandwidth. Full visibility of the network and
optional control over provisioning, protection, and bandwidthon-demand may also be provided using a secure, Web-based
customer portal.
OTN Market Acceptance
OTN has been deployed into networks with increasing scope since
its inception in 1998. Hundreds of thousands of OTN ports have been
deployed and are now carrying mission-critical traffic across a wide
spectrum of applications.
In March 2014, Infonetics Research published a report titled OTN and
Packet-Optical Hardware - Biannual Worldwide Market Share, Size, and
Forecasts, in which 21 optical networking decision-makers were surveyed
about their use of and plans for OTN. It is important to note that the
respondent service providers represented 34 percent of the worlds
telecom Capital Expenditures (CAPEX). The results presented in the
Infonetics report underscore the fact that OTN is indeed gaining market
adoption. Some highlights of this survey include:
 8 percent of total optical equipment in 2012 was OTN switching
and transport
66 percent expected growth of OTN switching and transport in 2013
78 percent of optical equipment will be OTN switching and
transport in 2017
22 percent is the potential CAGR growth of OTN switching
between 2012 and 2017
80 percent growth of OTN switching from 1H12 to 1H13
35 percent growth of OTN Switching market from 1H13 to 1H14
(versus 3% growth for OTN transport in the same period)
3X North American spending on OTN switching 1H12 to 1H13
First wavelength (40G/100G) efficiency is one of the key
applications for OTN switching


The deployment of OTN is also expanding into new application

landscapes. For example, industry experts see an expansion of OTN
from the core of the network to its metro edge, thus extending the
benefits of service transparency and efficiency directly to end-users for
data services such as 1GbE and 10GbE. Meanwhile, the evolution of
OTN is not restricted to dry land. Instead, it is expected that all sub-sea
cable networks that currently operate over SDH will be migrating to
OTN sometime in the near future, to gain the benefit of OTNs higher
bit rates (40 Gb/s and 100 Gb/s), latency awareness, and advanced
management features.
Use Cases
Real deployment scenarios and numerous network studies have
quantified the benefits of deploying OTN for transport and switching.
The customer use cases included here highlight those benefits.
Use Case 1: Bandwidth Grooming (Sub-wavelength) on 40G/100G
This example took place on the national backbone of a Tier 1 service
provider in the United States. Traffic consisted of a mix of 10G
wavelengths, including OC-192 and 10GbE serving wholesale and retail
private lines with approximately 3,000 10G circuits. An architectural
comparison was made between using point-to-point muxponders
only versus muxponders plus a switched OTN core for sub-wavelength
grooming. The results revealed a 32-percent reduction in the number
of deployed lit wavelengths and 13-percent reduction in deployed
Use Case 2: Network Path Optimization
This example focuses on how a switched OTN architecture helped
optimize a newly added path to the network, which was part of a
planned expansion to address traffic growth requirements. The study
revealed that OTN with control plane automation allowed for a periodic
regrooming of traffic onto more efficient routes, reducing average path
latency, recovering optical spectrum by grooming onto higher bit-rate


wavelengths, and rebalancing traffic to avoid congestion. Key benefits

realized include:
 9 percent reduction in average path latency
Up to 30 percent reduction in bandwidth congestion on most
highly utilized links

Use Case 3: Core Router Offload

This example compares the CAPEX required for IP router interconnect
over three different scenarios: IP over DWDM, IP over DWDM with
some wavelength expressing between traffic-heavy nodes, and subwavelength interconnection using OTN switching. The study was
performed on a 28-node network with a total of 47 links. The scenario
with sub-wavelength interconnection using OTN proved to preserve
10G interconnect and topology with ODU2 virtual wavelengths, allowing
for greater router capacity offload, in addition to extending the life of
existing router port cards. This led to a 50-percent reduction in router
Real-world OTN Selection Case
OTN is ideally suited for carrier-class networks and high-bandwidth
multi-tenant service providers transitioning from legacy technology, such
as SONET and SDH, to packet-switching OTN-based networks. Native
support for IP and Ethernet is intrinsic to OTN, making the transition
to an OTN infrastructure relatively painless for customers with IP- and
Ethernet-based services.
Many companies are deploying OTN as a means of leveraging their
network investments via maximization of wavelength capacity while
enjoying the increased network flexibility offered by OTN. A large
proportion of Metro network traffic remains local to the point of origin,
so moving OTN switching closer to the network edge increases overall
network throughput by keeping traffic off Metro network cores.
The mesh topology of OTN and native support for IP/Ethernet traffic
increases network efficiency, simplifies network architectures, and
reduces latency. By supporting multiple service line rates on one
common network, OTN provides a clear upgrade path for service


providers who need their network infrastructure to easily scale along

with their customers service requirements. To that end, OTN networks
are designed to simultaneously support services with a variety of line
rates from 1G to 10G to 40G and beyond. As a result, when a customer
requests an increase in their contracted line rate, that rise can be
implemented with just a few changes to the service providers network
configuration, typically requiring no upgrade to network hardware,
software, or applications. OTN-based providers can also allow for
automated, dynamic expansion and contraction of line rates based on
customer utilization or specific customer requests.
A large-scale service provider following this strategy selected Cienas
OTN network hardware and software to ease the transition from
their existing SONET/DS1/DS3-based network to a converged OTN
network. The new network will support the companys legacy networking
infrastructure while offering a clear bridge to higher line rates, increased
stability and efficiency, and native support for IP/Ethernet traffic. This
provider expects their transition to OTN to grant them competitive
advantage in the market space while reducing network and operations
costs to deploy, maintain, and expand their optical networks as customer
network demands increase. The ability to unite SONET/SDH devices
with an OTN infrastructure is a key consideration for this service provider
because the company still has a substantial investment in SONET/SDH
that is no longer being upgraded or actively expanded as an optical
transport standard. As their legacy devices near end of life in the coming
years, the provider expects to gradually phase out legacy SONET/SDH
and replace it with an entire OTN infrastructure. Clearly, this service
provider believes strongly that OTN is the optical network of the future.


To summarize, the key benefits of deploying OTN include:

Key element in making the network an open and
programmable platform

Service transparency

End-to-end monitoring

Built-in measurement for latency

Efficient client multiplexing/switching for high-growth services

Scalability to 100 Gb/s and beyond

Increased network survivability

 he ability to underpin the delivery of emerging

high-capacity services

For most organizations today, the goal is to lower costs and streamline
network operations. Organizations are simultaneously seeking a
solution that will set a new benchmark in service economics and turn the
network into a dynamic and intelligent pool of resources. OTN offers
a deterministic and simple service delivery model that complements
packet networks and paves the way for an entirely new generation of
servicesone that is likely to reshape the way people communicate.
Why Ciena?
Ciena delivers many state-of-the-art features and capabilities to enhance
OTN performance.
Cienas OneConnect intelligent control plane, provides a proven track
record, it is:
 eing deployed in the worlds largest mesh network
The industrys richest OTN control plane; refined over more than
a decade of real-world experience
Scalable to 1000+ nodes
Ciena also offers the broadest portfolio of OTN solutions, including:
 complete family of OTN transport and switching platforms
Seamless portfolio interworking for SONET/SDH/OTN and
packet switching


Ciena remains committed to OTN innovation, including:

Coherent optical processing

Rich network design tools

Agile photonic networking

Unmatched scalability

Cienas Converged Packet Optical Portfolio includes:

6500 Packet-Optical Platform
Converge three comprehensive networking layers into a
single platform to provide customizable service delivery from
the access edge, along the backbone core, and across ocean
Allows tuning the network toward packet and/or OTN, in any
ratio, with these high-density fabric modules. Fabric-based
switching complements blade-based switching, allowing
service providers to tailor their network from low-capacity
point-to-point to high-capacity mesh connectivity, as needed.
5400 Packet-Optical Platform
Offer the industrys first fully modular and reconfigurable
switching platform. The 5400 enables practical transition to a
converged OTN and Ethernet-based, service-enabling
intelligent infrastructure to achieve unmatched CAPEX
and OPEX reduction, rapid service delivery, and high
network availability.
SONET/SDH/OTN and Ethernet on the same platform
Multiterabit switching
Cienas OTN solutions deliver the most economical and optimized
network for transport enterprise application traffic. Cienas solutions give
enterprises the flexibility to tunnel Ethernet and data center protocols
directly through the intelligent OTN core, optimizing any investment in
routing interfaces, eliminating router hops, and minimizing latency. And
Cienas approach enables delivery of connection-oriented Ethernet that
ensures consistent, high-throughput, low-latency data delivery.
Based on key capabilities, including programmability and automated
management, Cienas approach to optical networking offers lowcost implementation and operation of OTN networks, providing the
scalability and flexibility to serve as adaptable foundations for enterprise
networks for years to come.

OTN Glossary of Acronyms

ADM: add-drop multiplexer
ASON: Automatically Switched Optical Network
ATM: Asynchronous Transfer Mode
bps: bits per second or b/s
CCAT: Contiguous Concatenation
DS1: Digital Signal 1
DS3: Digital Signal 3
DWDM: Dense Wave Division Multiplexing
EDFA: Erbium Doped Fiber Amplifier
Ethernet Inverse Multiplexing: maps 10Base-T traffic into VT 1.5
FCAPS: Fault, Configuration, Accounting, Performance, and Security
ESCON: Enterprise System Connection
FC: Fibre Channel
FEC: Forward Error Correction
G.709: ITU-T recommendation for interfaces for the OTN
GbE: Gigabit Ethernet
(10GbE = 10 Gigabit Ethernet, 100GbE = 100 Gigabit Ethernet)
GbE/s: Gigabits per Second
GCC: General Communication Channel
GFP: Generic Framing Procedure
GMPLS: Generalized Multi-Protocol Label Switching
IP: Internet Protocol
ITU: International Telecommunications Union
MAN: Metropolitan Area Network
Mb/s: Megabits per second
MPLS: Multi-Protocol Label Switching
OAM: Operations, Administration, and Maintenance


OC-n: Optical Carrier Level n (1, 3, 12, 48, 192, 768)

OCh: Optical Channel
OCC: Optical Carrier Channel
ODU: Optical Channel Data Unit
OMS: Optical Multiplex Section
OOS: OTM Overhead Signal
OPU: Optical channel Payload Unit
OTN: Optical Transport Networking (see G.709)
OTS: Optical Transmission Section
OTU: Optical Transport Unit
O-VPN: Optical Virtual Private Network
Packet-over-SONET: GbE over an OC-48/STM-16
ROADM: Reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexer
SAN: Storage Area Network
SDH: Synchronous Digital Hierarchy
SLA: Service Level Agreement
SONET: Synchronous Optical Network
Tbps: Terabits per second
TCM: Tandem Connection Monitoring
VCAT: Virtual Concatenation
VLAN: Virtual Local Area Network
VOIP: Voice Over IP
WAN: Wide Area Network
WDM: Wavelength Division Multiplexing


Paul Littlewood
Principal, Network Architecture
Office of the CTO
Paul Littlewood is a principal engineer in the CTO
team at Ciena. His current areas of interest include
network architecture evolution, metro network
design, and multilayer networking.
During his career, Paul has led product
management and engineering teams in optical
transport and digital cross-connect projects, and
was also a leader in the definition and development of Carrier Ethernet
technologies, including Resilient Packet Rings.
Paul has seven patents granted and has written a number of papers on
optical networking. He has an honors degree in pure physics from the
University of Newcastle upon Tyne in Great Britain

Fady Masoud
Senior Advisor, Technical Marketing
Ciena Portfolio Solutions
Fady Masoud is a senior advisor for Technical
Marketing at the Ciena Portfolio Solutions group.
His area of expertise focuses on the architecture
and requirements of next-generation optical
During his more than 18 years in the
telecommunications industry, Fady has held various
positions in the optical networking domain at Nortel and now Ciena. He
started as a hardware test engineer on the first OC-192 (10 Gbps) systems
and then as a systems engineer on optical metropolitan products, all
combined with hands-on experience.
Fady holds a bachelors degree in electrical engineering from Laval University
(Quebec City, Canada) and a masters degree in systems technology
(simulation of optical networks) from the Superior School of Technology
(Montreal, Canada). He has written publications on next-generation optical
networking, including 40G, ROADMs, intelligent network evolution strategies
and architecture, and on many other key topics.