The Importance of Photonic Integrated Circuits for the Data Center Interconnect Market

Mike_Capuano_VP-Corporate-Marketing

 

By Michael Capuano
Vice President, Marketing

The Data Center Interconnect market is exploding due to the rise of cloud and the tremendous growth of East-West (server-server) traffic between data centers – a market particularly driven by large Internet content providers with massive data center footprints. Infinera CEO Tom Fallon and President Dave Welch talked about this phenomenon in detail when we launched the Cloud Xpress platform, our 2 rack unit, 1 Tb/s (I/O) rack and stack Metro Cloud DWDM solution at Insight Infinera, in September 2014. We started shipping the platform in December 2014 and already have multiple customers in production including three internet content providers and a number of other cloud and content operators that have deployed or are testing the platform. This solution supports not only massive capacity with industry leading density, but it also claims impressive power efficiency of 1G/W in typical operating configuration.

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Infinera Cloud Xpress – 2RU, 1 Tb/s (I/O), shipping since Dec 2014

While others are still building or talking about platforms that will deliver 200G or 400G of line side capacity in a small server-like form factor, Infinera is the only company shipping 500G of line side capacity in 2RU today. Our ability to deliver 1 Tb/s in a 2RU rack and stack form factor and with this sort of power efficiency is based on Infinera’s unique advantage of Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs). In the Cloud Xpress we use the oPIC-500, a PIC optimized for metro reach and power efficiency that integrates hundreds of optical functions into two small Indium Phosphide chips. Infinera not only designs our PICs, but we also manufacture them in our own fab, providing truly unique differentiation. Other than Infinera, DWDM vendors are at the mercy of merchant optics vendors and what they can deliver in terms of density, power and timelines.  Power is a particularly critical issue. Some vendors may claim a particular capacity per RU, but what really matters is how many of the platforms can be placed in a standard data center rack.

mike blog

For example, if a platform with 400 Gbps line-side capacity has a max power rating of 850 Watts, a typical 12 kW datacenter rack can only power 14 units. That means the customer is limited to 5.6 Tb/s of capacity per rack.  It does not matter if the platform is 1 RU or 2 RUs, the rack density will be limited by power and furthermore many data center racks provide less than 12 kW, so the per-rack capacity with such a platform would be even lower. By contrast, Infinera’s oPIC-500 and FlexCoherent Processor deliver a max power of 700 Watts per Cloud Xpress enabling 8 Tb/s of capacity in a 12 kW rack. Cloud Xpress typically runs at 500 Watts or 1 Watt per Gbps enabling even greater rack bandwidth density.

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Source TeleGeography Colocation Database

From a management perspective, the Cloud Xpress has been developed to be simple to install, provision and manage. An operator can use common CLI, our DNA network management system or SDN APIs, which allow customer software to activate and provision the platform. Furthermore, the Cloud Xpress offers Infinera’s unique Instant Bandwidth capability which supports an initial deployment of 100 Gb/s of DWDM capacity and then software based activation of each of the remaining 4 x 100G slices of bandwidth when they are needed.

The result? Infinera has some very happy customers that have rewarded us with their business. Infinera has significant deployments with 3 of the top 4 Internet Content Providers and was recently rated by Ovum as the #1 DWDM provider in the Internet content provider and carrier neutral segment as well as the fastest growing company in Ovum’s DCI segment. Note that it is really the ICP/CN segment that matters, as this drives the market, where as the DCI segment has been defined by Ovum as DC-to-anything and therefore, includes many applications that do not conform to the traditional data-center to data-center definition of DCI.

Cloud and the resulting East-West traffic will continue to grow and it will present our customers with both challenges and opportunities. As always, Infinera is focused on delivering the highest capacity, lowest power, most reliable and easiest-to-use optical solutions to help our customers solve their problems and win in the market place.

Please see the Cloud Xpress in action at the Beer n’ Gear at NANOG 64 in San Francisco.

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May 20, 2015 at 8:59 PM Leave a comment

Infinera Expands from Driving Network Traffic to Networking in Driving Traffic

Silicon Valley Second Harvest Food Bank Truck Fueled by Infinera

It’s no secret that the Infinera solution helps customers switch and groom network traffic at the digital layer. But now, the team is influencing a different kind of traffic—by sponsoring the Second Harvest Food Bank’s (SHFB) mobile delivery vehicle. And, while the truck may not be able to improve anyone’s commute time like our DTN-X can deliver on faster speeds, it does act as a reminder of the humility and altruism of Infinera employees.

InfineraSHFB

On May 6, SHFB Annual Fund Officer Jennie Nguyenly joined Infinera’s quarterly All Hands meeting to show off the 18-wheeler and thank the attendees for an outstanding year of supporting our neighbors in need. “Infinera employees rallied together to help raise funds for Second Harvest Food Bank and the results were astounding! With a 67% increase over last year, Infinera’s efforts resulted in 126,000 meals to our local neighbors in need. They have proven that inspiration, teamwork and a touch of competitive spirit really goes a long way.” At the end of last year, Infinera competed in SHFB’s 48-hour virtual race and won by having the most employees make a donation to help end hunger in their community. [See full coverage of story here.]

While many of our team members wish that we could improve Bay Area transit traffic efficiency like we do on our customers’ networks, at Infinera we aren’t afraid to stop traffic when it comes to making a difference for those in need. So, when you see that Second Harvest Food Bank truck drive by with the Infinera logo, give them a honk or two and remember that the optical experts at Infinera know the importance of giving back.

Click here to learn more about Infinera’s commitment to social corporate responsibility.

FoodTruck

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May 15, 2015 at 7:00 AM Leave a comment

OTEGLOBE Deploys Infinera Solutions to Upgrade its International Backbone

Dino Andreou

Dino Andreou, CEO, OTEGLOBE

Chris Champion

Chris Champion, SVP EMEA, Infinera

Dino Andreou, CEO OTEGLOBE and Chris Champion, Senior Vice President EMEA, Infinera talk about their partnership to upgrade OTEGLOBE’s international backbone.

 

 

 

 

Q | I understand you have a long-standing co-operation with Infinera, can you tell us more about it?

Andreou: OTEGLOBE’s cooperation with Infinera goes back to 2008 when we were building our TransBalkan optical backbone network and we selected Infinera’s DTN optical transport as a flexible, scalable, cost effective and reliable solution. As OTEGLOBE evolved to become the leading international telecommunications carrier in South Eastern Europe we performed numerous network upgrades and expansions to keep up with increasing demands. During all these years Infinera gained our trust since they never failed to deliver in terms of excellent network performance and continuous support.

Q | What is your experience from dealing with an international carrier like OTEGLOBE for so many years?

Champion: A key value proposition for Infinera is the strong and close working relationships we have with our customers, while providing technology leadership so that carriers like OTEGLOBE can achieve profitable growth as they deliver communications services around the world. Last year the analyst firm, Infonetics Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., ranked Infinera as number one in optical networking based on very high ratings among customers for technology innovation, reliability and support. This year Infonetics ranked Infinera as the fastest growing optical company in North America and EMEA combined. We see this as a strong endorsement of our customer-centric approach and technology leadership.

Q | What triggered the recent expansion of OTEGLOBE’s backbone network between Greece and Western Europe with Infinera’s Intelligent Transport Network?

Andreou: OTEGLOBE has recently signed an agreement to land the Asia-Africa-Europe-1 international submarine cable system at its landing station at Chania, Crete. Our goal is to become the alternative hub in the Mediterranean for the continuously increasing Europe to Asia transit traffic. To address this increasing demand, we decided to deploy Infinera’s solution which enables us to enhance the scalability of our backbone with one solution that runs from the Mediterranean to the core of Europe.

Q | How does your Intelligent Transport Network solution fit to the plans of an international carrier like OTEGLOBE?

Champion: Infinera’s Intelligent Transport Network (ITN) delivers an ease of use solution for OTEGLOBE to manage and operate their network across borders and from remote areas in Europe to keep up with the growing demand for bandwidth.

In particular Infinera is the only company today shipping 500Gb/s coherent super-channels. A super-channel is an evolution in DWDM technology in which multiple coherent wavelengths are implemented on a single line card, and brought into service in a single operational cycle. This capability is crucial for OTEGLOBE to achieve operational scalability.

Q | You were one of the first companies to deploy the Flexible Grid Intelligent Transport Network. Were there any challenges?

Andreou: First of all Infinera never failed to deliver in terms of reliability in their cutting edge technology. Moreover innovation and fast time to market is mandatory in international telecommunications, so being an early adopter gives us a significant commercial advantage.

OTEGLOBE’s continuous success is based on our ability to remain one step ahead of the competition, for example OTEGLOBE was the first carrier in South Eastern Europe to build an advanced pan-European IP/MPLS network back in 2001.With Infinera’s ITN, OTEGLOBE will get the cutting edge in network scalability and flexibility, allowing us to quickly activate extra capacity to meet customer demands, which is crucial in the highly competitive telecommunications market today.

 Q | What are the benefits you offer to promote carriers to use your technology?

Champion: Infinera pioneered a new approach for networks with photonic integration – providing massive WDM capacity in small power and space footprints to handle growing bandwidth needs. I believe that the Infinera ITN offers high strategic business value to our customers like OTEGLOBE and it is designed to protect their investments for the future.

 

To read the recent joint press announcement from OTEGLOBE and Infinera, click here.

For more information on Infinera Intelligent Transport Networks, click here.

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May 13, 2015 at 7:45 AM Leave a comment

The Age of the Virtualized Datacenter – Musings from Big Data, Moscow

shemyakin

By Dimitry Shemyakin
Systems Engineer

The Cloud, built with a network of datacenters lies at the heart of what is seen as the fastest growing market in the IT industry.  Networking these datacenters creates both opportunities and challenge specifically related to the need for less power consumption, higher density, and application optimized solutions.

According to the publically available 2013 Disruptive Technologies Report from McKinsey Global Institute, the total annual economic impact of Cloud technology will grow to $6.2 trillion by 20251. This projection can be supported by constant data and traffic growth. For example, a 1KB HTTP Facebook request may result in up to a 930X internal network traffic. Moreover, Cloud services costs 3X less than paying the monthly cost of owning a datacenter. Cloud centric players have already demonstrated Cloud benefits: focus on innovation, speed and performance. This was the main topic of discussion at the Big Data event, which I visited a few weeks back in Moscow. The conference gathered a number of prominent datacenter market players, both from Russia and abroad, to discuss the innovation, challenges and opportunities for various verticals which are increasingly dependent on reliable networking when striving to keep their apps and services fast, available and reliable.

It is obvious that large enterprises and service providers will continue to move towards the Cloud, whether public of private. The question becomes how to extend the network from the central datacenter to a virtual location while staying effective.  One way to create a virtualized datacenter is to extend an existing datacenter to remote locations, but share resources across the network connection.  These network connections are known as Datacenter Interconnections (DCIs).

Dimitry Blog image

 

Virtual datacenters can bring not only revenue but also opportunity. A virtual datacenter offers similar services as a large centralized datacenter, but with additional possibilities to be more customized for specific enterprise needs. Datacenter operators can address large enterprises through a virtual datacenter solution and attract more profitable end users while establishing a footprint in a new market segment. There are already many successful companies that are already engaged in such strategies by building their own private networks using leased space and contracting companies to manage the network. This concept of the virtual datacenter is already popular in large metropolitan locations, where customers are spread out across larger distances.

Datacenter operators face a network challenge concerning power, space, bandwidth and trying to find competitive advantages. The network should have operational simplicity and ultra-high performance and at the same time should not consume a lot of space and power. There is a solution, though, based on­­ two key innovations developed by Infinera: photonic integration and optical super-channels. And both were initially developed for another booming market: carrier operator networking services.

The value of photonic integration lies in replacing multiple discrete components with a single highly integrated optical integrated circuit, the photonic integrated circuit (PIC). The PIC reduces space and power while providing higher performance network capacity. In fact, the real value of photonic integration is that it takes the highest power consuming components (e.g., network side lasers) and integrates them into a small compact device that consumes significantly less power and space.

Optical super-channels are defined as a group of smaller, more granular optical channels that are bundled into a single, larger optical group that provides equivalent high performance, but also adds the simplicity of managing fewer circuits without expensive truck rolls and costly manual operations on-site.

PIC-based super-channels provide the simplest and most cost-effective way of deploying network capacity. This solution results in increased reliability with photonic integration and simplification with super-channels that deliver hyper-scale performance.

Coupled together, Infinera has created new Cloud platforms that are optimized for the datacenter environment.  The Cloud Xpress, shown below, couples PIC technology and performance with super-channels to create simple, high-capacity datacenter interconnect solutions. CX

Russia, however, also has other key factors that are driving bandwidth into the Cloud, namely wireless.  As smartphone penetration continues to grow so does the need for more data service bandwidth.  For example, smartphone penetration grew by 19% YoY in 20142, and shows no sign of slowing down as people find new applications and new ways to consume bandwidth, much of which is in the Cloud (e.g., mail music, maps, videos).  This growth is driving demand for more Cloud bandwidth and the associated datacenters.  At the same time, enterprise customers increasingly rely on distributed corporate networks which allow them to operate more efficiently via Cloud apps and collaboration platforms and explore new business models.  Big data is here to stay, and in order to tackle this immense pull of opportunities, businesses need to stay efficient when offering Cloud services. In order to perform in a highly competitive market, businesses and operators should plan ahead now and need not be concerned about higher OPEX.  Cloud Express provides a cost-effective solution.

While struggling to do more for less to keep up with this trend, Russian datacenter operators and owners will ultimately benefit from Infinera’s new DCI solutions, which will keep their operational costs down and unleash new opportunities for customers, especially in the current economic climate.

1 McKinsey Global Institute: “Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy” May 2013.
2 Deloitte – Global Mobile Consumer Survey 2014

 

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May 8, 2015 at 9:54 AM Leave a comment

Infinera’s Bike Build Event – Team Building, Competition and Fun – and All for a Good Cause!

DSC_1326On April 1, Infinera teams from different departments in Sunnyvale were brought together for some team building, a great cause, and good old fashioned fun. There was no April Fool’s joking around for this incredible Bike Build event. 10 teams, each with 10 combatants, brought their A-game for a series of Minute-to-Win-It games to earn parts to assemble ten bikes to be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of San Jose.  The games were highly competitive with lots of intensity, taunting, and humor. But in the end, we all came together to watch 10 children make a surprise appearance to receive their bikes. It was a heartwarming moment and truly touching to see everyone’s efforts go to a great cause.

Below are some comments by the participants:

The event was a lot of fun because it was well planned with professionals conducting team games. It was made all the more great by the playful participation of Infinera employees. I enjoyed the whole event but the coin collection part for enthusiasm was very good, which made all the teams talk trash and get coins ;-) Infinera is a great place to work because of its people. I do see a lot of folks at Infinera who do care about the community.  – Karthick Kasiviswanathan

IMG_6663Build a Bike combined many great things into one event….charity, community service, corporate competition and FUN!  – David Winn

I love that Infinera plans events like this throughout the year to keep us engaged in our surrounding communities. This event in particular was really great because it helped to support our individual teams and was done in the spirit of great fun (although some teams took this very seriously).  It was absolutely amazing to build those bikes for those kids and to see them come into the room and see all of the support for them. Something like that will stick with them.   – Jennifer Olson

I think the event was a hit.  The emcees were energetic and entertaining.  But the Infinera participants were even more so!  What I enjoyed the most was seeing all my co-workers’ personalities shine.  Everybody had a great time with the challenges and the results went to a good cause.  I haven’t been working here very long (started as a contractor in July ’14), but everyone here has a very competitive spirit.  You see it in the business model, products and at events like this.  Infinera is just as ambitious for bragging rights over their neighboring departments.  But let’s not confuse the event as a fun event that happened to go to a good cause.  It was a good cause that allowed us to have fun in the process.  I look forward to the next community, team and company building event. – David Lim

IMG_6659Infinera puts together amazing events that not only bring employees together, but also enable them to collectively do good things to give back to the community. Build-A-Bike was an event unlike any other – bringing together Infinera employees, competitiveness, goofiness and a whole lot of fun! The camaraderie and giving-back spirit from employees at Infinera is what makes this place a great workplace.  – Kathy Le

What made this event so great was seeing the kids at the end of the event!  Their faces were priceless!  – Lisa Cianciarulo

At Infinera, giving back to the community is important to us.  Check out the Infinera Community Fund webpage to learn more.

 

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April 29, 2015 at 9:57 AM Leave a comment

A New Breed of Packet Optical Transport for Data Center Interconnect on the Horizon

Stu Elby 1By Stuart Elby, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President, Cloud Network Strategy and Technology

Previously, Mike Capuano discussed the advantages of packet aware transport systems in terms of improving network efficiency, and in Infinera’s press release from March 23, we launched the concept of Layer T, a combined packet optical transport layer. Today I would like to expand upon Layer T and how emerging technologies will enable an entirely new breed of Layer T platforms.

Data Center Interconnect (DCI) packet networks are bounded in service complexity and routing scale because their primary purpose is to provide secure reliable attachment points for Cloud hosted services that require the spanning of multiple data centers. This is in sharp contrast to the complexities of multi-service, multi-tenant and Internet scale routing required by carrier wide area networks. Ideally, the operators that provision a service should need to be concerned only with the service level agreements required by that service and not with the underlying complexity of transport layers – optical, digital, and packet. For more than a decade, network operators have understood the economic reality that switching digital information at the optical layer is less costly on a per bit basis than switching it at the digital (circuit) layer, and both are much less costly than switching at the IP layer. Costs include capital, power, and operational complexity.

Layer T Blog 1a

The underlying transport layer, which we call Layer T, should provide a completely flexible and programmable mix of optical and packet transport such that any given data path is optimized with respect to what layers of switching it consumes at which points along its path. Furthermore, Layer T should trend in line over time with respect to price-performance as predicted by Moore’s Law. Until recently, this has been a vision – or a fantasy, depending upon your level of skepticism – but we believe that the tools are now emerging to enable the construction of a Layer T platform: photonic integrated circuits (PICs), merchant silicon packet switching, and software defined networking (SDN). These tools include:

  1. Optics that scale like integrated circuits (ICs) – Infinera has been and continues to be a leader in designing and fabricating large scale PICs (the current generation integrates over 600 optical functions operating at 500 Gb/s DWDM (dense wave division multiplexed) super-channel)
  2. Packet switching that trends similarly to consumer volume ICs – the industry now supports several IC vendors delivering commercial off the shelf (COTS) packet switching chipsets that are approaching Tb/s switching capacities.
  3. SDN – the ability to separate service activation, service assurance, and policy management from the data path platform onto COTS servers not only isolates the software development cycle from the hardware development cycle, but enables greater disaggregation for greater flexibility in architectures and more options for vendors.

The disruption that such a platform will bring is not simply due to the Moore’s Law cost-performance curve it can ride and the complete elimination of high bandwidth optics needed between separate packet and optical platforms; it is the ability to truly achieve multi-layer optimization. In principle, every service or every flow could be handled dynamically at the lowest possible layer based upon the Cloud operator’s policies. When this multi-layer transport optimization is achieved, we are no longer bound by the traditional seven-layer networking model; we enter a much simpler architectural framework that consists of only two layers – the transport layer and the Cloud services layer, which is manifested in the Cloud as applications running on servers or network functions virtualized (NFV) on servers. This dramatic simplification is driven by and enabled by data center requirements on scale and virtualization.

Layer T Blog 2a

We believe that the combination of PICs, merchant packet switching silicon and SDN will revolutionize the data center interconnect market through a disruptive cost structure, improved network efficiency, full automation across the packet optical transport layer, and enhanced service velocity. Over time we believe this approach will likely find its way into the metro and backbone networks as well.

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April 23, 2015 at 11:00 AM Leave a comment

An Interview with Eric Loos, Senior Product Manager Capacity & IP at BICS

Eric Loos, BICS

Eric Loos

Senior Product Manager Capacity & IP at BICS

Geoff Bennett: Hi Eric, thanks for letting me interview you today.  We saw quite a bit of interest in last month’s trial of Large Area/Low Loss fiber.  So let me begin by asking you why is it important for an international service provider like BICS to get involved in this sort of trial?

Eric Loos: At the end of the day all of our traffic is carried over optical fiber, and there are many different kinds of fiber in the ground today.  In Europe especially there’s a lot of unlit fiber, and one of the business planning decisions I have to make at BICS is whether it makes more sense to use up this existing fiber, or to think about deploying newer, more efficient fiber types like the OFS Terawave™ fiber we tested here.

Geoff Bennett: How would you make a decision like that?  What are the most important criteria?

Eric Loos: It’s really all about the money.  If it’s more cost effective to deploy new fiber then that’s what we’ll do.  But we have to have solid data to make the decision.  It’s one thing to read a fiber data sheet, or run a simulation, but lab trials like this give us a far higher level of confidence in the data that we can plug into our planning model.

It’s the only reliable way we can figure out if it’s better to sweat existing fiber assets, or to deploy new types of fiber like the one we tested here.

And for sure these new fibers are a key step in the deployment of higher order modulation like 16QAM.

Geoff Bennett: Why is 16QAM so important?

Eric Loos: It’s not that 16QAM or 8QAM or any other particular modulation is important.  It’s all about extracting the maximum economic capacity on a route.  Higher order modulation is a mechanism to help us do that, but you don’t get something for nothing.

For example, we read Powerpoint slides and conference presentations about 16QAM, and the promise is a doubling of fiber capacity.  But over existing fiber types that comes at the price of about one-sixth of the reach compared to QPSK – which is the most popular modulation used for 100G transmission today.

Is that a good economic trade-off?  It would be if 16QAM still had enough reach to close our routes in an economic way, but the fact is that on existing fibers that isn’t the case.  It’s a particular problem with G.655 or LEAF fiber because these have significant non-linear penalties with 16QAM.

We also need to look at the age of the fiber.  Did you know that the last widespread deployment of fiber in Europe was during the dot com boom?  So in addition to losses that fiber may incur because of repairs and splices, there’s a well-known mechanism of hydrogen aging in optical fiber.  This is one reason why service providers will insist on a safety margin of about 2dB on any deployment.  Usually this isn’t included in headline reach numbers for modulation trials of high order modulation like 16QAM.

Geoff Bennett:  What kind of real-world reach would you expect from 16QAM on existing fiber?

(more…)

April 13, 2015 at 11:31 AM Leave a comment

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