Multicast communication in wavelength division multiplexed (WDM) networks is traditionally supported by the assumption that the optical crossconnects are multicast capable, i.e., they are capable of switching an incoming signal to more than one output interface. A naïve method of supporting this functionality in a multicast-incapable (MI) environment is by creating a virtual topology consisting of lightpaths from the multicast source to each destination of the multicast session. For large sets of multicast requests, however, the network bandwidth consumed by such a scheme may become unacceptable due to the unicasting nature of the lightpaths. We refer to this method as achieving multicast via WDM unicast (MVWU). To support users’ multicast requests (from higher electronic layers) in MI networks, we propose two overlay solutions: drop at member node (DMN) and drop at any node (DAN). In these solutions, we achieve multicasting by creating a set of lightpath routes (possibly multiple hops) in the overlay layer from the source node of a request to each destination member. In the DMN case, we allow a lightpath route to originate/terminate only at source and destination members of a request, whereas in the DAN model we impose no such restrictions. We first consider a static traffic model, wherein the set of multicast requests is known ahead of time, and present integer linear programs (ILPs) to solve these problems (MVWU, DMN, and DAN) with the goal of minimizing the total number of wavelengths required to service the set. We also present an efficient heuristic and compare its performance to the ILP for a small network, and run simulations over real-world, large-scale networks. Moreover, we present lower bounds to calculate the minimum number of wavelengths required by the DMN and DAN models. Finally, we evaluate the performance of the heuristic (minimization of the number of wavelengths) under a dynamic traffic scenario and also evaluate the blocking performance for a fixed number of wavelengths.
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