Service and content providers must keep up with the unrelenting pace of network growth, while also controlling costs and improving customer satisfaction. How can you arrive at that goal? You must have a clear path to simplify, optimize, and automate your multi-layer network operations. Rebecca Smith explains how Ciena’s Navigator Network Control Suite is here to help you do just that!

Seven years ago, Ciena launched our Manage, Control and Plan (MCP) domain controller, which ushered in a new way of operating networks. It provided a single system for network and service management built on a scalable, containerized, microservices-based platform. As customer adoption grew, so did MCP’s capabilities. In fact, you can say it has outgrown its own name! Our portfolio of network control applications does so much more than just help you manage, control, and plan your network. So today, we’re pleased to announce a new name for our network control software suite. Welcome Ciena’s Navigator Network Control SuiteTM!

Why Navigator?  Well, when one sets off on a journey, it’s essential to have a trusted navigator by your side that can lead you to your desired destination. If there are twists and turns along the way, the navigator can help you maneuver and continue forward as effectively and efficiently as possible. This is also true for your network operations. Ciena’s Navigator Network Control Suite (Navigator NCS) enables service providers to optimally operate their networks so they can flex and scale their infrastructure to support growing demand and embrace new business opportunities.

Understanding today’s operational challenges

Today’s networks are typically comprised of multiple technology layers that have been built over time to support a particular set of end customer services. But network infrastructure is sourced from multiple vendors. This means network operations teams must use multiple operational systems to manage the network. This also means that data must be manually correlated between systems to complete provisioning, troubleshooting, and assurance workflows.

As a result, it has become a time-consuming and daunting task to build out capacity while keeping cost constraints in mind. Furthermore, as service providers work to scale their networks sustainably, they are converging IP and optical layers to achieve footprint, power, and cost savings. Network operations teams need to coordinate between each other all the more, yet fragmented, manually intensive network operations create complexity and slow things down.

The benefits of Navigator NCS

Navigator NCS addresses these operational challenges through intelligent multi-layer network control. With the Navigator Multi-layer Controller, network operations teams can gain complete multi-layer, multi-vendor network control in a single software system, eliminating the need for manual handoffs. The ability to have comprehensive visibility from one point of control is unique in the industry. Plus, the Navigator Intelligent Apps are fully integrated with our Controller to deliver proactive, Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven insights based on a wealth of real-time and historical data, allowing operators to significantly simplify troubleshooting and optimize network utilization and performance.

These apps include our Adaptive IPTM Apps, Multi-Layer Operations, Liquid SpectrumTM and PlannerPlus. All these capabilities are accessible to users through a rich web-based GUI, or via open APIs. To facilitate the integration of Navigator NCS with third-party operational support systems (OSS) and infrastructure elements, Navigator NCS also includes Emulation CloudTM, a virtual lab that is easily accessible to customers and development partners 24/7 for testing Ciena’s open APIs.

Navigator Network Control Suite Diagram

Figure: Navigator Network Control Suite provides intelligent network control across
multi-layer, multi-vendor network infrastructure

Elevating operations to the cloud

As outlined above, Navigator NCS brings you all the great capabilities we have developed as part of MCP, but we also recognize the growing importance of managing your network operations in the cloud. That’s why Navigator NCS offers a choice of deployment models: on-premises, in the customer’s private or public cloud, or Ciena’s Navigator Hosted Service whereby Ciena securely deploys, manages, maintains, and operates the IT infrastructure in the cloud for you.

Furthermore, as part of our vision to arm our customers with the best insights to proactively optimize network performance, Navigator NCS also offers new cloud-hosted apps, available as Software as a Service (SaaS), as part of our Liquid Spectrum and Multi-layer Operations. For example, Network Trends, which is one of our Multi-layer Operations apps, facilitates capacity planning by analyzing a multitude of network data captures to reveal the trending of key network performance metrics over time. These types of analytics require high data storage for vast amounts of historic telemetry data, as well as require high compute processing. As a result, they lend themselves to the flexibility and scale of the cloud.

Ciena has also introduced new cloud-based Liquid Spectrum apps – SNR Optimizer and Spectrum Defragmentation. Both of these applications leverage data collected from Ciena’s highly instrumented open line systems to help you fully optimize the return on investment of your photonic layer.

  • SNR Optimizer analyzes real-time system metrics and calibration data to maximize the line delivered Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR). It recommends how to adjust several photonic settings to mine latent system margin to deliver more network capacity without adding any new hardware.
  • Spectrum Defragmentation analyzes the network to re-arrange wavelength channel assignments to free up continuous spectrum for new connections.

Like we said – Navigator NCS does so much more than just manage, control and plan your network!  Looking ahead, we are also thinking about how AI can be applied to network operations, what is known as AIOps. In essence, AI and Machine Learning (ML) techniques are used on data collected from the network to optimize operational use cases and eventually enable the automation of data-driven closed-loop operations. Leading use cases include proactive maintenance, performance optimization, and capacity forecasting. We’ve started to explore how Navigator NCS can leverage these exciting technologies to further empower our customers to take their network operations to new levels. Stay tuned for more to come in the area of AIOps.

There’s no denying it, networks and the demands being placed on them have become more complex over the last few years. Ciena’s vision of The Adaptive NetworkTM has become all the more relevant – a network that grows smarter every day to respond intuitively to changing network needs. Navigator NCS plays a vital role in making this vision a reality. With its single point of control, network operations teams gain clear and comprehensive visibility of the entire network – multi-layer and multi-vendor – plus unrivaled analytics insights, enabling them to deliver the best performance for end customers. With Navigator NCS, rest assured we can help guide you in your journey to a more adaptive, optimized network!