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Virtual concatenation (VCAT) is a Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH)/Synchronous Optical Network (SONET) network functionality recently standardized by the International Telecommunication Union Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T). VCAT provides the flexibility required to efficiently allocate network resources to Ethernet, Fiber Channel (FC), Enterprise System Connection (ESCON), and other important data traffic signals. In this article, we assess the resources' gain provided by VCAT with respect to contiguous concatenation (CCAT) in SDH/SONET mesh transport networks bearing protected scheduled connection demands (SCDs). As explained later, an SCD is a connection demand for which the set-up and tear-down dates are known in advance. We define mathematical models to quantify the add/drop and transmission resources required to instantiate a set of protected SCDs in VCAT- and CCAT-capable networks. Quantification of transmission resources requires a routing and slot assignment (RSA) problem to be solved. We formulate the RSA problem in VCAT- and CCAT-capable networks as two different combinatorial optimization problems: RSA in VCAT-capable networks (RSAv) and RSA in CCAT-capable networks (RSAc), respectively. Protection of the SCDs is considered in the formulations using a shared backup path protection (SBPP) technique. We propose a simulated annealing (SA)-based meta-heuristic algorithm to compute approximate solutions to these problems (i.e., solutions whose cost approximates the cost of the optimal ones). The gain in transmission resources and the cost structure of add/drop resources making VCAT-capable networks more economical are analyzed for different traffic scenarios.
Date of Publication: Oct. 2005