Creating Speed and Agility in New Network Deployments with a Factory Built Network

By: Greg Byrne

Today, network operators seeking competitive edge must prioritize and exercise agility. The most successful must rapidly vet and deploy new technology so that they can compete by offering greater value in the most appropriate technology, performance, predictability and ecosystem enablement.

To explain the pressure for rapid deployment, it’s essential to look at today’s disruptive business environment. Rapidly increasing bandwidth requirements for transport networks is a major driving factor. An ever-increasing need for network implementation speed is also the result of an increasingly competitive landscape for such enterprises as cloud service providers, content providers, and traditional competitive communications service providers. In response to these pressures, equipment manufacturers have dramatically shortened their product development cycles, which means operators are constantly introducing new higher bandwidth products and technology into networks as they work to add bandwidth via new fiber paths or network upgrades. To add complexity and pressure, many of today’s network operators are running in a business environment with rapid new customer acquisition and frequent new service introductions.

For these operators, network build speed is life. Simply put, it’s essential to success. A business model that leverages the Factory Built Network (FBN) procedure delivers that speed while preserving the highest in network fidelity.

Transforming a Sequential Process into Parallel Methodology

The traditional process for deploying a new transport network is sequential, resulting in long project timelines and drawing heavily upon scarce internal optical engineering resources, especially when new products or technology are involved. Alternately, an equipment manufacturer, which might also be competing for those same scarce resources, delivers a level of vendor lock-in—a net reduction in agility—along with that new network. This sequential methodology usually leads to a project duration of over 12 months. A 12-month time horizon doesn’t count as rapid deployment, and with such disruption in today’s business landscape, it doesn’t foster agility.

Traditional Network Implementation Process

Developing a new business model

LightRiver’s Design, Build, Educate, Transfer (DBET) business model upends the traditional process. As LightRiver worked closely with customers to dramatically shorten project timelines, it became evident that a paradigm shift was required. Every aspect of an optical network build that could be performed in parallel had to be undertaken. Furthermore, the entire value chain needed to be brought in-house, so that it could be tightly integrated and so that transitions between project phases could be made seamless.  

The first area that LightRiver focused on vertically integrating was network architecture, product selection, and network design. Our customers require transport networks that are multilayer. Additionally, they want to leverage best-of-breed products at each layer, so they usually command multivendor networks. In the past, network operators were required to sequentially work through multiple proofs of concept with multiple equipment vendors. LightRiver addressed this problem by building a state-of-the-art multivendor interoperability networking facility called LightRiver Labs. Within LightRiver Labs is over $50 million of networking equipment, including the latest generation of packet optical networking hardware at each layer from the tier 1 network equipment suppliers.


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