OBS is endowed with the capabilities to satisfy the high bandwidth demands of applications such as grid computing, Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), and cloud computing among others. OBS is still in a nascent stage of development but is expected to take off rapidly once it is commercialized by a leading industry participant.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (technicalinsights.frost.com), Advances in Optical Networks, finds that OBS technology is the leading contender for facilitating next-generation optical Internet and grid computing. Ever since its introduction in the late 1990s as a novel switching technique for optical transport networks, OBS has managed to garner a lot of interest from the academia, vendors, and operators.
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"While the advent of Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) has improved the amount of raw bandwidth that is available for usage, until now, there has been no switching technique that is capable of efficiently tapping the bandwidth that is available on optical fibers," notes Frost & Sullivan Technical Insights Industry Analyst Venkat Malleypula. "This has paved way for a new switching technique called OBS, which is touted as a superior switching technique that is capable of meeting the high bandwidth requirements of the Internet and applications such as grid computing."
The main reason behind the emergence of OBS is the lack of switching techniques that are capable of efficiently tapping the bandwidth offered by optical networks. Optical Circuit Switching or OCS, one of the popular switching techniques that have been around in the past few years, does not efficiently serve Internet Protocol (IP) traffic. Meanwhile, Optical Packet Switching (OPS), though very efficient, has not been opted by researchers and industrialists, as it is not commercially viable.
"OBS, on the other hand, is capable of supporting bursty Internet traffic and tapping the huge transmission capacity made available with optical fibers and WDM technology," says Malleypula. "OBS technology combines the advantages of both OCS and OPS and could be imagined as a hybrid technique bridging OCS and pure OPS."
However, OBS also suffers from a few technological challenges due to contention resolution in the core, the lack of optical buffers, and the absence of efficient wavelength conversion devices. Furthermore, lack of OBS-based products in the market has also hampered interest in OBS, leading to poor awareness of the benefits OBS could offer. The absence of standards is another challenge that is impeding the growth and commercialization of OBS.
"Going forward, companies need to come out with more OBS-based products in order to arouse interest in the technology," notes Research Analyst Achyuthanandan. "As of now, only one OBS-based product is available in the market and it has yet to create a huge impact."
Regarding the standards issue, researchers and corporate players involved in OBS technology need to realize the importance of the lack of standards and they have to take initiatives to develop specifications. The open grid forum (OGF) and researchers at the University of Essex have already taken steps to develop specifications for Grid-over-OBS networks. Major industry participants could take a similar initiative and appoint a committee for developing standards for OBS technology.
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