Once upon a time, there lived a network magician named Comnetix in the kingdom of Reticulo, but he was sad and desperate. His king wanted him to earn more gold coins with communication services, although increasing capacity requirements and stagnating revenue had killed profitability many years ago. And Comnetix had no idea how to prevent being thrown into the dungeon.
In desperation, he decided to seek advice from a famous wizard who recently had become even more famous as he managed to bring programmability to networks by implementing OpenFlow interfaces. This wise and visionary development earned him the title “Wizard of OF” as this innovative functionality opened up new revenue streams in a fast and easy way and at the same time helped to manage OPEX by automation of previously manual processes.
With great hope, Comnetix traveled 12 days and 11 nights until he reached the cave where the Wizard of OF was living. He explained the situation and the wise wizard looked at him and with a gracious smile started to explain: “You shall not seek any miracles because this is a simple question of insight. Are you prepared to accept my advice?” As Comnetix nodded he continued, “There are two network objectives, which you need to achieve. Those will bring you back to profitability.” Comnetix looked at him expecting to be confronted with the impossible and never heard when the wizard continued: “Make your network open and secure!”
Comnetix was confused because wizards typically have three suggestions, not two and because he believed that the network already met those requirements in a most favorable way. Seeking clarification he asked: “All my suppliers claim to have open solutions. So what should I do differently?” The Wizard of OF had seen this misperception many times before. “So why do you apply the same vendor across many technology domains and network layers such as DWDM, OTN, Ethernet and MPLS-TP? A vertically integrated solution is not creating an open network. You are not easily able to use the best technology for each network layer. If you had an open network you could select the best and most innovative supplier for each network layer independently. Open interfaces shall assure easy integration allowing you to grow your network in the most flexible, cost-efficient and innovative way and avoid troublesome vendor lock-in.”
Immediately Comnetix realized that openness is not just about an open programming interface. This innovation goes much further. Having the same programming interface at different network layers simplifies integration of network layers in an unprecedented way. And this even allows the selection of the best technology and vendor per network layer. The advantages were immediately obvious to him such as higher flexibility, faster service innovation and simpler network integration. But most importantly, this approach allowed him to escape from the vendor lock-in imposed by vertically integrated network elements.
So he wondered about the second requirement for profitability which the Wizard of OF claimed to be “security”. Perimeter security was implemented in his network and sophisticated intrusion detection systems were likely to recognize any cyber-attack. His operational controls were based on well-developed policies and implemented in a very stringent and thorough way. So, what could be done better?
“Do you ask your enterprise customers to move their data into your private cloud? Have you noted, that they are concerned about security of their data?” the Wizard of OF started to explain. “Your precautions are wise, but have you thought about protecting your data in-flight? Customers know how simple it is to get access to optical fibers.” Comnetix immediately understood, that encryption of any transmitted data at lower network layers is the missing link in his line of argument when talking to enterprise customers. And he knew that applying such technology enabled the competent and efficient sales teams to get further enterprise customers in Reticulo to move to the cloud.
Comnetix felt enlightened. Now he knew what to do. There was a city in the south of the kingdom, north of the Alps, among several seas, inhabited by indigenous people with strange dialect but famous for their beer. In this city, there was a company highly valued for its network gear. This company could help him to transform the network towards a SDN/NFV centric, open service production platform by applying the most versatile and programmable photonic layer which at the same time secures the network against attacks and interception. Those were the two main missing ingredients for transforming a less profitable network into a goldmine meeting his king’s expectations.
By applying such innovative technology, Comnetix managed to avoid the dungeon. And he continued to innovate the communication infrastructure in Reticulo and they all lived happily ever after.