FlexWAN: Software Hardware Co-design for Cost-Effective and Resilient Optical Backbones

Congcong Miao, Zhizhen Zhong,Ying Zhang, Kunling He,Fangchao Li,Minggang Chen,Yiren Zhao,Xiang Li, Zekun He, Xianneng Zou,Jilong Wang


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The rising demand for WAN capacity driven by the rapid growth of inter-data center traffic poses new challenges for costly optical networks. Today, cloud providers rely on fixed optical backbones, where all hardware devices operate on a rigid spectrum grid, leading to the waste of expensive optical resources and subpar performance in handling failures. In this paper, we introduce FlexWAN, a novel flexible WAN infrastructure designed to provision cost-effectiveWAN capacity while ensuring resilience to optical failures. FlexWAN achieves this by incorporating spacing-variable hardware at the optical layer, enabling the generated wavelength to optimize the utilization of limited spectrum resources for the WAN capacity. The configuration of spacing-variable hardware in a multi-vendor optical backbone presents challenges related to spectrum management. To address this, FlexWAN leverages a centralized controller to achieve coordinated control of network-wide optical devices in a vendor-agnostic manner. Moreover, the flexibility at the optical layer introduces new algorithmic problems. FlexWAN formulates the problem of provisioning WAN capacity with the goal of minimizing hardware costs. We evaluate the system performance in production and share insights from years of production experience. Compared to existing optical backbones, FlexWAN can save at least 57% of transponders and reduce 36% of spectrum usage while continuing to meet up to 8x the present-day demands using existing hardware and fiber deployments. FlexWAN further incorporates failure resilience that revives 15% more bandwidth capacity in the overloaded optical backbone.
Optical backbone networks,Network modeling,Network planning,Optical restoration,Network optimization
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