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Wavelength-routed networks (WRN) are very promising candidates for next-generation Internet and telecommunication backbones. In such a network, optical-layer protection is of paramount importance due to the risk of losing large amounts of data under a failure. To protect the network against this risk, service providers usually provide a pair of risk-independent working and protection paths for each optical connection. However, the investment made for the optical-layer protection increases network cost. To reduce the capital expenditure, service providers need to efficiently utilize their network resources. Among all the existing approaches, shared-path protection has proven to be practical and cost-efficient . In shared-path protection, several protection paths can share a wavelength on a fiber link if their working paths are risk-independent.
In real-world networks, provisioning is usually implemented without the knowledge of future network resource utilization status. As the network changes with the addition and deletion of connections, the network utilization will become sub-optimal. Reconfiguration, which is referred to as the method of re-provisioning the existing connections, is an attractive solution to fill in the gap between the current network utilization and its optimal value . In this paper, we propose a new shared-protection-path reconfiguration approach. Unlike some of previous reconfiguration approaches that alter the working paths, our approach only changes protection paths, and hence does not interfere with the ongoing services on the working paths, and is therefore risk-free.
Previous studies have verified the benefits arising from the reconfiguration of existing connections   . Most of them are aimed at minimizing the total used wavelength-links or ports. However, this objective does not directly relate to cost saving because minimizing the total network resource consumption does not necessarily maximize the capability of accommodating future connections. As a result, service providers may still need to pay for early network upgrades. Alternatively, our proposed shared-protection-path reconfiguration approach is based on a load-balancing objective, which minimizes the network load distribution vector (LDV, see Section 2). This new objective is designed to postpone network upgrades, thus bringing extra cost savings to service providers. In other words, by using the new objective, service providers can establish as many connections as possible before network upgrades, resulting in increased revenue. We develop a heuristic load-balancing (LB) reconfiguration approach based on this new objective and compare its performance with an approach previously introduced in  and , whose objective is minimizing the total network resource consumption.