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Huawei OTN Handles Peak AlibabaTraffic

2013/4/8 15:44:00


Alibaba Group is China’s largest (and the world’s second largest) Internet-based company. Operating a diversified eCommerce business, Alibaba reaches users in more than 240 countries worldwide.

Alibaba Group’s many businesses and affiliated entities include Taobao Marketplace, Alipay,, and Alibaba Cloud Computing. Several major Integrated Data Centers (IDCs) handle the massive data services generated between headquarters and its subsidiaries, between subsidiaries, and between the subsidiaries and carriers. As a result, IDC interconnection is critical.


Alibaba Group faced several challenges as it tried to keep pace with the demands of more users, escalating traffic, and a higher volume of services:

  • Fast, unpredictable service growth

Service bandwidth could not be flexibly increased to match unpredictable service growth. When sellers promote special holiday sales, for example, access and transaction volumes increase sharply, requiring massive service bandwidth.

  • Direct fiber connections and increased network complexity

Since the optical interfaces of routers were directly connected to each other, the fiber connections between IDCs became increasingly complicated. Fiber cuts would interrupt services, and service interruptions would slow down user access speeds.

  • Leased fibers with high fault rate and poor controllability

When a fiber fault occurred, the maintenance department could only negotiate with the bandwidth provider to resolve the problem. This resulted in unpredictable fault resolution timelines and complicated maintenance work.


Using the existing IDC equipment rooms as service nodes, the new OTN nodes connected the headquarters with the subsidiaries by leasing carrier fibers. In the first phase, six IDCs were connected to this OTN network. In the second phase, the number of IDCs increased to eight.

The Huawei OTN solution delivered the following advanced features:

  • Large-capacity design to meet growing service demands and simplify the network

Huawei used OSN8800 devices to build an 80-wavelength DWDM system. The transmission rate for a single wavelength can be upgraded to 10, 40, or 100 Gbit/s. Services with up to 8 Tbit/s (80-wavelength x 100G) transmission rate can be scheduled on one pair of optical fibers. The solution reduces leased optical fiber quantities and accommodates needs several years into the future.

  • Flexible service grooming, convenient capacity expansion, and rapid service launch

For service access and grooming, a separate tributary-line architecture was used to handle the uncertainty of peak flow timing. This architecture enables access service integration. It is groomed by a unified cross-connection and then redistributed to the specified circuit board for data transfer. Live network services are unaffected during service expansion, line bandwidth upgrades, and network topology changes, provided related resources have been reserved. Capacity upgrades can be done on Alibaba’s side, eliminating carrier negotiations and ensuring greater control over fiber resources.

  • Increased network protection to improve network robustness

Wavelength-Division Multiplexing (WDM) technology simplifies the physical fiber connections. In addition, ODUk level Subnetwork Connection Protection (SNCP) technology (dual transmission and selective receiving) is used to implement service switchover within 50 ms in the event of fiber cuts.

  • Customized O&M to ensure 24/7 troubleshooting

Huawei provides 24/7 maintenance services, ensuring quick response to network faults. In addition, Huawei’s U2000 network management platform notifies maintenance engineers of network alarm information via SMS as soon as they occur.


  • The large-capacity OTN features flexible service expansion capabilities, speeding IDC deployment and ensuring that Alibaba can keep pace with growing service demands.
  • A simplified direct fiber connection network structure reduces the number of fiber links that cannot be directly controlled, reducing the network fault rate by more than 60%.
  • Excellent network protection capabilities and a customized network management platform ensure smooth operation of the network and services.
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