Optical mesh network proves its worth for Verizon during Japanese earthquake

Last month, Ciena made a big splash with the introduction of Intelligent Infrastructure, our view on the strategic evolution that packet-optical networks must make.  Intelligent Infrastructure is about moving away from a static and rigid network model and towards a more dynamic and flexible network infrastructure that allows the service provider to provide value-add services for business and residential customers alike.

Key to this is an Optical Mesh Network, which uses an optical control plane to automate both the provisioning and restoration of complex optical networks.

During last month’s Ciena Analyst Day in NYC, Ihab Tarazi, Verizon’s VP of Global Network Planning, attended the event as a guest presenter (you can see a webcast archive here).  Ihab spoke directly to the value of Mesh Networks, and detailed the exceptional performance of Verizon’s global IP network during the Japanese earthquake and tsunami disaster in March.  Verizon’s is one of the largest and most connected global IP networks in the world, with 180,000 business customers using the network.  And as Ihab explained during his session, it is far from being a static network:


“Talking a little bit about the smarts or the IQ of the network…this is an area where we’ve been collaborating with Ciena for a very long time.”

“The core of the network is a mesh control plane capable network, and we’ve had global deployment of mesh for many years.  We have eight-way diversity across the Atlantic ocean, another eight-way diversity across the Pacific.  And that is tremendous, when you built the network with the physical capabilities, with all the submarine cable investment we have and fibers across the global, as well as the control plane, you really can achieve six-nines availability on a sustainable basis.”

Ihab went on to give specifics on Verizon’s mesh network performance during the Japanese earthquake and tsunami:


“So during the last Japan disaster, many cable systems were cut.  Even if it’s a seven or eight cable system, these cable systems had 15-20 cuts.  And it wasn’t just one event, we had multiple aftershocks.  If you remember, every two days or three days there was another aftershock. Well the [Verizon] network survived all of those within 50 milliseconds.  We have not lost a single circuit for any customer, or dropped a packet during the whole situation.”

“That is owed half to the physical network diversity, but also the dynamic mesh network’s ability to see all these paths and restore dynamically within milliseconds.”

While this ability for the network to survive extreme events may sound exceptional, Ihab said that customers are increasingly expecting it as a requirement:


“In fact, the new fundamental customer expectation is that events like that are seen in a small latency fluctuation, not an outage.  So that’s the new expectation in the marketplace.  That’s what people need for their applications.”

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