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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, Tmall.com, 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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.