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For the past 15 years, Nokia's SReXperts events have given engineers and architects a chance to be at the forefront of networking. SReXperts 23 Americas carried on the tradition, providing a variety of insights into the future of IP and optical networks. 

Here are key takeaways from two of our experts who attended the event.  

New routers for edge networking 

Joshua Hogan, Technical Solutions Architect - MPLS / Segment Routing

SReXperts 2023 Americas will go down as a major turning point in Nokia's portfolio strategy, with major product announcements as well as a strong shift toward model-driven and containerized software solutions.

The biggest news of the event was the announcement of a new product line: the Nokia 7730 SXR routers (SXR for Service Interconnect Routers).

The 7730 routers are all built on a newly developed chipset, the Nokia FPcx. This chip set offers 5Tb full duplex and is focused on providing high feature scale without the need for massive bandwidth that would be required in the network core.

The intent is to position this chipset and its 7730 routers at the network edge where Broadcom-based chips struggle to support all the necessary features. With modest bandwidth needs at the edge, this custom solution fills what has previously been a bit of a gap in the Nokia portfolio.

Nokia's 7730 SXR platform helps efficiently meet IP access, aggregation or small edge needs.
Nokia's 7730 SXR platform helps efficiently meet IP access, aggregation or small edge needs.

Software strategy emphasizes flexibility and programmability 

Nokia also announced some changes to their software strategy.

Starting this year, "Model-Driven" management is the default mode of SR OS. This means that moving forward Nokia platforms will ship with the MD software interface enabled, which will help to accelerate the industry's move towards more programmable and automated infrastructures.

Another big move is the push towards "SR-Linux." SR-Linux contrasts with Nokia's standard SR-OS software in that it runs over a Linux kernel, allowing increased flexibility and programmability. I expect that over the next few years Nokia will move more and more products to SR-Linux.

Additionally, Nokia is moving their software release schedule from four releases per year to three, which highlights how dependable and stable Nokia software is relative to their competitors. It's clear Nokia puts a high premium on their software's dependability and lack of major security-driven patches. 

Pluggables get more sophisticated

Nokia also showcased dramatic improvements they've made in the converged optical and packet space.  The company is leaning heavily into 100G coherent pluggables that can use ZR technology to run reach over 120km without amplification out of a QSFP port.

They also have a new line of "line system" pluggables, which will perform certain amplification and mux/demux capabilities out of QSFP ports. This is exciting because now we can use pluggables in the router to replace the cumbersome line system functions that have been required to meet certain distance or bandwidth requirements.

As time goes by, more and more of the complex optical functions are being put into pluggables that can be used right in a router, greatly simplifying the network and increasing its overall capabilities.

Quantum-safe optical networking gains traction

Chris Fitzpatrick, Technical Solutions Architect

There were several new announcements and exciting demonstrations to reinforce major themes of the event. "Enabling Quantum-Safe Networks" particularly caught my eye. 

Considering how quickly quantum computing is evolving, traditional cryptography methods are at risk of eventually being breached and, thereby, obsolete. Nokia quantum-safe optical networking solution blends the best of key distribution methodologies to secure organizations' most sensitive in-flight information. 

Nokia's Security Management Server (SMS) is the first layer, along with the addition of their third-party Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) trusted vendors. Vendors include LuxQuanta, evolutionQ, and Crypto4A Technologies with its fifth-generation quantum-safe crypto-agile Hardware Security Modules (HSM), Hardware Security Platforms (HSP), and PQC Migration Solutions. Together, you have a multi-tiered dynamic security solution to protect data end to end.

Demonstration of the Nokia quantum-safe optical networking solution.
Demonstration of the Nokia quantum-safe optical networking solution.

But quantum-safe networks was just one of the many evolutions in optical networking. 

Another is Nokia's 6th generation PSE-6s, opening a new frontier in optical transport scalability by delivering the industry's first 2.4Tb/s coherent transport solution in a multi-channel line card, enabling 800GE IP-Optical networking, advancements in C+L and ROADM line systems.

Faced with the physical limitations of current fiber used in optical transport, and the never-ending pressure to reduce cost/bit and energy/bit, listening to Tod Sizer's lecture (VP of IP and Optical Networking Research at Nokia Bell Labs) was like stepping into a sci-fi movie. The advancements taking shape over the next 5-10 years are phenomenal. Using multi-core, hollow core fiber and pushing 1 Petabit are just a few examples of what Tod covered.

Optical networks that make sense 

Additionally, in another complex discussion, Nokia demonstrated how transforming high-performance optical fiber networks into networks that can sense, think and act, could take the place of dedicated sensors by using thePSE6 telemetry available on coherent transponders already embedded in the installed fiber base throughout the world, providing earthquake, fire and tsunami detectors to name a few.

A not-so-simple train set demonstration on interpreting data for sensor use.
A not-so-simple train set demonstration on interpreting data for sensor use.
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