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Which are the major topics for debate at OFC 2014?

By Dr. Ioannis Tomkos

OFC has been always the place where the major future scientific and commercial challenges are discussed extensively. Such discussions have proven to influence the future of the industry, so their impact is huge.

Most intense discussions and controversial opinions take place typically during OFC workshops that are organized in advance of the regular technical program (i.e. on Sunday and Monday morning). Of course, like every year, it is expected that the major debates are centered on the hottest emerging topics that have already attracted the interest of companies and are currently making the transition from an academic research topic to what can be considered as a possible commercial competitive advantage for the major industry players. In that framework, my personal choices for the most interesting workshops where a debate will take place (rather than a topic/technology will be analyzed in great detail; which is typically the other format for OFC workshops), are the following:

Will Single-fiber Space-division Multiplexing Ever Find a Commercial Application? (Organized by Chongjin Xie, Bell Labs, Alcatel Lucent, USA and Gernot Goeger, Huawei Technologies, Germany)

This workshop will focus on the recent developments in space-division multiplexing (SDM) using multi-modes and multi-cores in a single fiber (MMFs/MCFs). The participants will try to reveal the possible application areas for which the associated technical and economic challenges will allow the near-term deployment of the relevant SDM solutions. Indeed SDM has been promoted mostly as a technology that will enable core networks to scale their capacity according to the huge projected future evolution of traffic demands (for relevant predictions you should consider attending the plenary and rump sessions). Inevitably SDM will be introduced in future core systems but the big question is “when?”. The introduction of SDM in core transport networks requires as a prerequisite, a huge multi-billion dollar investment in new MMF or/and MCF fiber infrastructure. Network operators would be for sure very reluctant to abandon their SMF deployed infrastructure and will most probably not do it unless there is no other possible way. However I believe that SDM can find a shorter-term application in core networks if the focus will be in the use of SDM technologies (i.e. transceivers, amplifiers, switches, etc.) for networks utilizing bundles of SMF fibers that are already available within the deployed cables. Another application space where SDM can make it sooner in the market is certainly the intra-data-center networks, where cable/fiber management (besides capacity scaling) is a big issue that the data-center operators are concerned with.       

Does SDN Spell the End for GMPLS? (Organized by Lyndon Ong, Ciena, USA; Hans-Juergen Schmidtke, Juniper, USA and Oscar Gonzalez de Dios, Telefonica, Spain)

At this workshop the debate will be centered on the pros and cons of SDN vs. GMPLS and eventually on when and under what conditions SDN will take over GMPLS in core networks. Certainly there is a huge hype currently in the optical networking community about SDN and the benefits it can offer with respect to supporting the unification of control planes of packet and optical networks. The more “pragmatists” are considering also the time it took from the initial discussions about the possible introduction of GMPLS in core networks until the time of its first deployments and of course the decade-long on-going efforts for its standardization. On the other hand, the application of SDN for data center networks has quite different prospects compared to its application for core transport networks, due to the different traffic characteristics and application space requirements. So its application therein might take place sooner. The relevant discussions will for sure cover a big part of the workshop presentations. Of course we should consider that SDN vs. GMPLS is not a “black” or “white” type of issue as those approaches can also co-exist.
Software-Defined Optical Access: Hope or Hype? (Organized by Neda Cvijetic, NEC Labs America, USA and Antonio Teixeira, Universidade de Aveiro, Portugal)

More recently, the application of SDN in another optical network segment (i.e. the access networks as opposed to core and data-center networks) has attracted also some attention. In this workshop, the presenters will discuss whether or not SDN makes sense to be applied in access networks. Part of the scientific community believes that software-defined functionality is well suited for this optical network segment with very dynamic characteristics in order to offer the solution for support of on-demand service provisioning across heterogeneous access networks.

DSP for Short Reach Applications: Why Bother? (Organized by Chris Fludger, Cisco Optical, Germany; Ton Koonen, Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands and Leslie Rusch, Université Laval, Québec, Canada).

Digital signal processing algorithms/techniques (DSP) have found their way into core networks due to their ability to significantly scale the reach, capacity and flexibility of such networks. A lot of research activities have been dedicated subsequently to the application of DSP in short reach systems (being for the access, or data-center, or in-building networks). However such short-reach application areas have typically quite different requirements (primarily in terms of cost and power consumption targets) than core networks’, making the applicability of similar DSP approaches questionable. The participants will try to reveal what are the requirements for, and challenges in the selection of proper DSP techniques for short-reach applications and where the introduction of DSP might not be appropriate.

What are the topics that you believe are worth a debate at OFC 2014 and in the future?
Dr. Ioannis Tomkos
(Dr. Tomkos has been involved with OFC/NFOEC in various roles ranging from participant and speaker to exhibitor, workshop organizer, committee member and subcommittee chair).

 tomkos photoIoannis Tomkos (B.Sc., M.Sc. Ph.D.), has been with AIT since September 2002 (serving as Professor, Research Group Head and Associate Dean). In the past he was Senior Scientist at Corning Inc., USA (1999 – 2002) and Research Fellow at University of Athens, Athens, Greece (1995 - 1999). He is also currently an Adjunct Professor at University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences and at University of Cyprus. Together with his colleagues and students he has authored over 500 peer-reviewed archival scientific articles, including about 150 journal/magazine/book publications and 350 conference/workshop proceedings papers. Dr. Tomkos was elected in 2007 as Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Communications Society for the topic of optical networking. He was also elected Fellow of the IET (2010) and Fellow of OSA (2012) for “outstanding scientific contributions to the field of transparent optical networking”.


Posted: 3 February 2014 by Dr. Ioannis Tomkos | with 0 comments

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The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition (OFC)  or its sponsors.