How pluggables enhance network flexibility

How important will pluggable technology be in tomorrow's infrastructure? Let's take a closer look at what these low-power, small-footprint devices have to offer in core, metro and edge networks.
Arthur Cole
Micromux family

With network architectures becoming increasingly disaggregated and 5G endpoints extending the traditional cellular edge, interest is rising over the use of pluggable devices throughout access, aggregation and core network infrastructure.

But where exactly, and how, should pluggables be introduced to the network? And what role should they play within disparate architectures that are rapidly transitioning to newly virtualized, intelligent forms of management and operation?

Pluggables have the advantage of being highly flexible and adaptable to a wide range of environments, but they still carry the stigma of lacking in performance. Fortunately, networking technology has advanced to the point where pluggables can now deliver high performance when it’s needed without sacrificing the small form factor and easy integration features that have long been their strengths.

From core to edge

ADVA’s latest additions to the MicroMux™ family, for instance, are already proving highly effective at aggregating edge and core networks in support of next-generation network services. The MicroMux™ Nano and MicroMux™ Quatro offer high-density multiplex performance at both ends of the network: the Nano fitting into 10GbE sockets to enable multiple 1GbE interfaces, while the Quatro converts 400GbE client ports into four 100GbE links. This allows network operators to scale legacy networks quickly without major capital outlays while still providing superior service to legacy applications.

Pluggables can now deliver high performance when it’s needed without sacrificing the small form factor and easy integration features that have long been their strengths.
Going forward, of course, pluggables offer a high degree of flexibility to meet changing network needs. While much of the future networking stack will be virtual, added flexibility on the physical layer will allow operators to continuously alter basic infrastructure to ensure resources can be quickly applied to the most appropriate data loads. Under a more rigid architecture, physical changes typically require a hefty capital outlay up front, followed by a lengthy test and integration phase, which is often accompanied by diminished performance and dissatisfied users. 

Metro networks can benefit from pluggables as well. SFP+ 10GbE DWDM transceivers are integral components in ADVA’s G.metro solution, providing a low-cost option for mobile providers and enterprises to expand access capacity without lighting up additional fiber links. Not only are the devices self-tuning, they meet all the latest ITU-T specifications and provide for zero-touch management of the optical layers as well as remote health and status monitoring through a dedicated communications channel.

Fiber efficiency

As well, these devices provide single- and dual-fiber functionality, with native transport of eCPRI services using passive DWDM. By leveraging existing fiber in this way, operators gain the rapid scale required of access networks in the 5G era without having to deploy expensive fiber optic hardware.

To be clear, however, traditional fiber infrastructure will still form the backbone of data connectivity in the 5G era, but with pluggables, network operators will be able to do more with that backbone as the needs of data users evolve over time.

Network professional across the board have recognized for some time that future networks must not only provide greater bandwidth, throughput and scalability, but must also be more flexible and deliver a lower TCO. With pluggables, providers will be able to satisfy all of these demands and be able to quickly pivot to whatever the future has in store.

Related articles