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The evolution of optical technologies is driving the introduction of multirate optical networks exploiting advanced transmission techniques and efficient switching devices. In the short term, optical connections operating at 10 and 100 Gb/s will coexist in the same multi-rate network infrastructure. This, however, might introduce significant issues due to detrimental inter-channels effects, which need to be considered during network planning or connection provisioning. In the long term, connections at higher bit-rates (e.g., 400 Gb/s) and based on complex modulation formats (e.g., quadrature amplitude modulation - QAM) are expected, together with the adoption of innovative and flexible bandwidth-variable optical cross-connects (BV-OXCs). BV-OXCs have the potential to significantly improve the overall network spectrum efficiency. However, critical issues might arise in the dynamic control of network operations. This article discusses the enhancements required during operation and control of future optical networks with quality of transmission guaranteed. A first network evolution scenario is considered, where 100 Gb/s lightpaths are introduced in a native 10 Gb/s network. In such a scenario, inter-channel effects between 10 and 100 Gb/s lightpaths are highlighted. Relevant methods to account for these effects are discussed and evaluated. Then, a second network evolution scenario is assumed, in which traditional OXCs are replaced with BV-OXCs, and even higher bit-rates (e.g., 400 Gb/s 16-QAM) are introduced in the network. In particular, the problem of scalability when advertising and storing spectrum resource (i.e., frequency slices) availability is presented for flex-grid optical networks (i.e., optical networks exploiting BVOXCs). Consequently, a method to efficiently handle availability information is proposed and evaluated, showing the capability to overcome scalability issues without impacting the overall network resource utilization.