Current network operators are focused mainly on providing and selling network services on top of the network infrastructures they own and manage. The end user has no control over how these services are provided. However, specific requirements are coming from emerging applications that request network and computational resources. These new requirements are difficult to accommodate with the existing telecommunication operational models because telecom companies have full control over the infrastructure. However, through virtualization, it is possible to allocate isolated instances from networking devices to different users or applications. This paper presents techniques used to virtualize and manage optical networks in order to have services decoupled from the underlying infrastructure while especially focusing on its impact on next-generation optical networks. Moreover, benefits from using this approach are demonstrated in terms of network operation, emerging services, and industry impacts. Actually, the main rationale behind optical network virtualization is the capability to offer infrastructure services to end users by exposing control of the infrastructure to the end users, allowing them themselves to assemble networks. We also present how the “infrastructure as a service” (IaaS) concept brings a new role to infrastructure providers as it allows the deployment of dynamic services in optical networks and the federation of their underlying infrastructures.
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