How Can Transmission Devices Be Easily Deployed in Data Centers?


Automobiles have been around for more than a century. In the early days, it took 728 man-hours to assemble just one automobile, making it impossible to meet the market demand. After Ford invented the assembly line, that time was shortened to a mere 90 minutes. With such improved efficiency, the go-to-market (GTM) time of automobiles was greatly shortened and the assembly cost was reduced, making it possible for almost every home to have an automobile.

As digitalization spreads to every industry, an increasing number of enterprises deploy their services on the cloud and a vast amount of data is generated. From 2015 to 2018, 3 million active mobile applications went online. Huawei Global Industry Vision (GIV) forecasts that the global data storage volume will reach 180 ZB by 2025. Data centers (DCs) that support a vast number of services are rapidly expanding in capacity. Cloud service providers need to expand their data center interconnect (DCI) capacity as often as every month. To confront explosive growth of traffic and service volume, optical transmission devices must be deployed more efficiently and services must be quickly provisioned.

So, how can optical transmission devices be easily and efficiently deployed? To answer this question, we need to focus on each step of device deployment and installation to identify and rectify any problems. As with other IT equipment, the deployment of optical transmission devices involves three parts: 1. Device installation; 2. Device configuration; 3. Network commissioning. The following describes the optimization suggestions according to three aspects.

1. Quick installation: Influencing factors mainly include power supply, space, power consumption, heat dissipation, and fiber connection.

Traditional optical transmission devices are designed according to telecommunications equipment room standards. To ensure that devices delivered to the DC equipment room can be properly installed, a site survey must be performed in advance. Depending on the number of sites and how widely they are distributed, the site survey could take days or even weeks. To guarantee power supply and save energy, the DC uses AC power supply and the innovative cold/hot air isolation design. What's more, in order to save even more space, devices must support stacking installation. To facilitate the installation of devices in DCs, the equipment room needs to be reconstructed, or a power converter or air deflector needs to be added. However, equipment room reconstruction or equipment modification takes twice as long as installing hardware, and much space is wasted. In addition, deploying fiber connections in DCs is complex and time-consuming, and a pair of fibers is required between every two optical ports. For an 80-wavelength point-to-point network, that equates to hundreds of fibers. To make matters worse, fiber connections are prone to errors, with over 5% chance of errors for manual connection. And as DCs grow in size, fiber connections become increasingly complex and troubleshooting becomes increasingly difficult. This results in frequent site visits.

The only way to solve the preceding problems and achieve quick installation is to improve the architecture of optical transmission devices. That is, the devices must adapt to the installation environment in DCs. For example, the devices must support AC power supply, front-to-rear air flow, and 19-inch standard cabinets. This helps eliminate site survey and reconstruction costs as well as improve installation efficiency. By improving the integration and flexibility of the devices, in addition to saving space, the number of internal fiber connections can also be reduced. For example, optical-electrical integration reduces wastage of space and slots, and a unified platform facilitates installation and management. On the one hand, the integration of multiple boards with different functions (such as multiplexer/demultiplexer boards and optical amplifier boards) improves board integration, reduces internal fiber connections, and lowers power consumption. On the other, the use of special fibers enables hardware installation personnel to directly identify fiber connections and avoid errors.

2. Simple configuration: Includes NE information configuration and fiber connection detection.

After the hardware installation is complete, related personnel need to configure NEs to enable the DCN network. This includes configuring the NE ID and IP address, adding boards, and checking whether fiber connections are correct. The traditional mode requires numerous rounds of cooperation between onsite hardware installation personnel and NMS center software commissioning personnel. After powering on the device, the running status of devices and boards cannot be directly displayed on site. Instead, this is queried on a remote NMS, resulting in low efficiency.

Simple configuration enables hardware installation personnel to configure basic NE information, check whether fiber connections are correct, and check the running status of devices during device installation, avoiding multiple site visits. A common solution is to add an LCD screen to devices. Such a screen can be used to configure the IP address and ID of an NE to quickly enable a DCN. What's more, the screen displays the running status of devices and boards, helping to quickly locate device faults and avoid remote confirmation. A web GUI is built into devices and does not need to be installed, making it easier for the installation personnel to view the automatic fiber detection result on devices and avoid incorrect fiber connections.

3. Automatic commissioning: Device commissioning is less technical and free from manual operations.

Due to special technical features, highly trained professionals are required to commission optical transmission devices. In some case, professional optical power measurement tools are required. The commissioning personnel must be highly skilled and experienced in operations such as allocating board wavelengths, configuring FEC types, adjusting the optical power of lasers, and adjusting the gain of optical amplifiers. However, most commissioning engineers in DCs are IT personnel, and there are only a few people in the team responsible for commissioning various devices from multiple vendors and in multiple domains. Therefore, device commissioning is also a major factor that can slow down device deployment if commissioning personnel are relatively inexperienced.

To enable IT personnel to commission optical transmission devices, a web GUI must be provided, making device commissioning less technical and reducing learning costs. In addition, to enable automatic commissioning, engineering plan documents can be imported for basic network configurations (such as fiber length, fiber type, attenuation, and site type). This improves efficiency and ensures consistency between the planned and live network. In addition, the automatic optical power commissioning technology enables automatic wavelength configuration, route information querying, wavelength management, automatic optical power adjustment, and automatic link optical power equalization. IT personnel no longer need to learn the commissioning process or use highly technical tools. The commissioning result is displayed in detail in the web GUI, or alarms are displayed on the screen, greatly improving efficiency. As well as these benefits, the automatic service adaptation mode enables automatic service provisioning and requires no configuration.

In summary, how can you achieve easy and efficient device deployment for DCIs? First, modify and optimize devices to adapt to the installation environment in DCs and avoid site survey and reconstruction. Second, achieve zero configuration and zero commissioning with one site visit to improve efficiency. Third, simplify configuration and management tools to enable simple configurations for hardware installation engineers and easy deployment for IT personnel.