NGOF launches five-star criteria for premium private lines

18 May 2019 | Huawei Advertorial

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The Next Generation Optical Transport Network Forum (NGOF) has officially launched its five-star criteria for premium private lines, which is set to redefine enterprise private lines centered on user experience.

The criteria, which was launched at the Huawei Global Analyst Summit (HAS) 2019, redefines the key indicators for enterprise private lines in five dimensions: high availability, large bandwidth, low latency and jitter, service agility, and online self-management.

The criteria also define five levels of premium private lines based on differentiated user experience. The criteria aims to provide guidance for upstream and downstream industry partners to jointly build premium private line networks, deliver a better service experience for enterprise customers, and drive the prosperity of the entire optical network industry.

According to IDC, 85% of enterprise applications will be deployed in the cloud by 2025. According to Gartner, the cloud computing market is expected to hit US$143.5 billion by 2020. The ever-growing demand for enterprise cloudification poses a great challenge to carriers' private line bearer networks. In recent years, the bandwidth growth of enterprise private lines lags far behind that of home broadband services. High-value customers such as financial institutions, government agencies, OTTs, and large enterprises, attach a great importance to high reliability, low latency, large bandwidth, bandwidth on demand (BOD), high cost effectiveness, and fast provisioning. Carriers urgently need to provide private lines of a better quality to address the future cloudification requirements of various enterprises.

In response to this market demand, the NGOF industry alliance has been focusing on the formulation of a unified criteria for premium private lines since its foundation, and has set up a cloud & private line bearer work group. NGOF has performed an in-depth survey on the service requirements of many enterprises such as financial institutions, Internet enterprises, and scientific research institutes. Based on the survey results, it has put forward the five-star criteria for premium private lines from the perspective of user experience, aiming to provide guidance for industry partners to innovate premium private lines. The criteria consist of five indicators: guaranteed bandwidth, high availability, low latency and jitter, service agility, and online self-management.

  • Guaranteed bandwidth: Enterprise private lines need to provide guaranteed bandwidth based on end-to-end physical network isolation, and encrypt data based on different levels.
  • High availability: Enterprise private lines need to deliver a link availability of 99% or higher. The link availability can vary from 99% to 99.99% based on different levels.
  • Low latency and jitter: By using the E2E provisioning latency per 1000 km private line as well as the difference between the actual route latency and latency during provisioning as the evaluation metrics, NGOF quantifies the latency and jitter based on different levels.
  • Service agility: NGOF quantifies the service provisioning time, which is from the time when an enterprise customer subscribes to a private line service online to the time when the carrier delivers the service to the customer. The service provisioning time can range from months to minutes, based on different levels.
  • Online self-management: Allows enterprise customers to manage private line KPIs in a visualised manner, and customise differentiated private line service policies on demand.

Figure 1: Five-star criteria for premium private lines

Zhao Wenyu, leader of the cloud and private line bearer work group at NGOF, pointed out: "NGOF has worked with industry partners to thoroughly survey enterprise customers' requirements, and put forward five-star criteria for premium private lines based on user experience. We look to leverage a quantitative criteria system to drive industry partners to jointly build experience-measurable private line bearer networks, so as to provide superior service experience for end users and promote the prosperity of the optical network industry."

China Telecom Chongqing has developed differentiated network access capabilities and built an intelligent, future-proof government/enterprise private line network that boasts high quality, large bandwidth, and easy O&M.

"Based on our criteria for premium private lines, China Telecom Chongqing has created the "FIRST" premium private line product portfolio and offered high-quality services tailored for various high-value customers, improving our differentiated competitiveness and user experience. That's why China Telecom Chongqing has made great progress in the high-end government/enterprise market,” said Liu Yi, chief engineer of the transmission and access network at China Telecom Chongqing.

The network reconstructs WDM + pipe routes to offer an ultra-broadband, flexible, simple, intelligent, and secure transmission network. For services with 1G+ data rates, OTN+ROADM is used for bearing and grooming. For services with 1G or lower data rates, MS-OTN is used for building a premium government/enterprise private network.

To date, premium private lines have been highly recognised by the three Tier-1 carriers in China and leading carriers in Europe, which have embarked on the journey of exploring innovation practices. In the future, NGOF will further play a decisive role as an industry alliance, and continue to work with industry partners worldwide to propel the prosperity of the entire optical network industry.

Enterprise demand for private line service is rising as enterprises try to keep pace with globalisation, informatisation, and cloudification. Enterprise private lines offer an opportunity for carriers to facilitate enterprise informatisation.

According to China's State Administration for Market Regulation, there were already 26 million enterprises in China in 2016, and an additional five million will be registered each year from 2017 to 2020 for a total of 46 million enterprises by 2020.

According to an Ovum report, global private line market revenue will reach US$70 billion by 2020. In Europe, Tier 1 carriers have adjusted their B2B organisations and designated B2B services as a strategic growth point. Europe's Vodafone elevated its enterprise business from a subordinate department of the CTO to the CEO. In 2016, Orange promoted its Business Services CEO from Orange senior executive VP to Orange deputy CEO, and designated enterprise business as a new growth point. UK Telecom spun off its business and public sector department in 2016 to focus on the B2B market.

China's top three carriers are continuously investing in private line network construction, such as China Unicom's national financial private network, China Telecom's flattened regional ROADM network, and China Mobile's national OTN backbone network. Revenue from these three carriers has been increasing by 10% each year. Recently, revenue from private line services with gigabit data rates or higher has surged in excess of 50%. Similarly, private line services with data rates from 100Mbps to gigabit speeds have increased by over 40%.

The bandwidth of private lines is also increasing rapidly. According to an Ovum report, the demand for private lies with gigabit or higher rates will increase at an annual rate of 25%. The demand for 100 gigabit private lines will increase exponentially at an annual rate exceeding 50%. 

Latency refers to the bidirectional round-trip transmission time between client-side devices. Jitter refers to the variation in the range of latency. For real-time services (such as high-frequency transactions, online games, and cloud computing), latency and jitter greatly affect the quality of upper-layer services. Latency has become the key indicator for carrier competition in the private line market. In the international private line market, the latency for each carrier is ranked. A difference of just 1ms can mean a loss in business orders. Lowering private line latency can increase carrier revenue. Latency differentiation brings a diversified user experience and allows users to flexibly select the optimal server deployment. This choice and optimisation gives carriers a competitive edge.

When carriers provide private line service leasing, network bandwidth is stipulated. Traditional private line leasing mainly provides intra-city, intra-province/state, and inter-province/state bandwidth. New cloud private lines provide cloud access and cloud interconnection bandwidth. Unlike public networks, private lines feature E2E guaranteed bandwidth; the bandwidth for each private line is occupied independently and cannot be used by others.

Simon Lu, president of the transport network domain at Huawei, added: "As an integral part of the global optical network industry, Huawei will continue to enhance our solution innovation to help carriers achieve business success. Today, Huawei's end-to-end MS-OTN, ASON 2.0, and Network Cloud Engine (NCE) are helping carriers create five-star premium private lines. Looking forward, we will further strengthen joint innovation with industry partners to enable the value growth of global carriers by harnessing premium private lines."

While the mobile broadband and home broadband markets are growing steadily as expected, more and more carriers are investing in enterprise services, such as cloud services. They are both cooperating and competing with internet cloud service providers.

Abundant network private line resources offer advantages and opportunities for carriers to provide enterprise users at the terminal end with IT services. Private line products in the future can be classified and priced based on important product attributes such as bandwidth, link availability, packet loss rate, security, latency and jitter, provisioning time, and network self-management capabilities. In this manner, the high value of carrier networks can be exploited and their private line quality can be distinguished from that of internet cloud service providers.

Moreover, different network resources and technical solutions are provided for private lines with different quality requirements. Currently, the SDH/MSTP technology solutions are mainly used to meet premium private line requirements of VIP customers, such as government agencies, financial institutions, and large enterprises. With the increase of bandwidth requirements and the limitations of SDH/MSTP network development, OTN and WDM technologies with enhanced packet capabilities will become the optimal solution for high-quality private lines.

Enterprise cloudification boosts bandwidth requirements for inter-DCI private lines and enterprise-to-DC cloud access private lines. Cloud private lines have in-depth requirements for low latency, high flexibility, and high agility. On-demand pipe OTN has become an important development direction of next-generation OTN technologies because it can effectively and flexibly carry cloud private line services of any granularity and meet long-term requirements of financial customers for VC services. On-demand pipe OTN can also generate high-quality pipes based on the service bandwidth of users. Furthermore, it can multiply the number of pipes to facilitate the evolution from the private line bearer network to the premium cloud private line, and achieve coordinated provisioning of cloud network services.