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Single-hop wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) optical ring networks operating in packet mode are one of the most promising architectures for the design of innovative metropolitan network (metro) architectures. They permit a cost-effective design, with a good combination of optical and electronic technologies, while supporting features like restoration and reconfiguration that are essential in any metro scenario. In this article, we address the tunability requirements that lead to an effective resource usage and permit reconfiguration in optical WDM metros. We introduce reconfiguration algorithms that, on the basis of traffic measurements, adapt the network configuration to traffic demands to optimize performance. Using a specific network architecture as a reference case, the paper aims at the broader goal of showing which are the advantages fostered by innovative network designs exploiting the features of optical technologies.