Automatic Switched Optical Networks, or ASON, is regarded as one promising networking technology for future optical networks. From network operators' perspective, it is well agreed that ASON should provide the following features: fast provisioning, easier network operation, higher network reliability, scalability, simpler planning and design, and multi-vendor inter-operability. Fast provisioning enables ASON to meet the requirements of more dynamic applications such as bandwidth on demand and content distribution. Protection and restoration is crucial because of the extremely high data-rate the network will carry. Mesh type network and fast provisioning capability leave more space for a more reliable and flexible network.
Unlike traditional transport networks that are constructed purely for point-to-point connectivity, ASON deployed in regional or metro-area networks needs to provide high connectivity to its clients. And, as a result, the planning and designing problem becomes very complex due to the large number of devices, the variety of interface types and network protocols. It is also important that the network will be able to inter-connect devices from different vendors and provide support to different client signals such as SONET/SDH, Ethernet, IP, ATM and Frame Relay.