PTC 2015: New Paradigms in Networking: The Cloud Effect

Steve GrubbBy Steve Grubb

Infinera Fellow

There were many trends discussed here at the global PTC 2015 conference, but one that seemed to stand out above the others and that was discussed across a broad spectrum of networks and carriers, both subsea and terrestrial, was one that has been termed “the cloud effect.”   Financial analysts have noted that Internet Content Providers (ICPs) have been moving into new markets very quickly and are projected to match the spending levels of several major Tier 1 carriers within two to three years.  The ICPs generally have little to no legacy infrastructure and are therefore able to focus almost entirely on innovation, speed and performance.  In response, traditional carriers are forced to at least try stay on par with the aggressive growth of ICPs and are starting to adopt more flexible, cloud-based strategies.

These aggressive, fast moving carriers who are responding to this cloud-driven challenge are beginning to transform their existing networks into simplified, collapsed, software-driven networks, as shown in the figure below.  We are beginning to see the convergence of Layers 0 through 2 into a single intelligent transport platform, enabling significant network savings and increased ease of operations.  Higher layers are bundled together into services and get virtualized in the cloud.

PTC Blog 1

As Jim Fagan, president, Managed Services at Pacnet, succinctly summarized in an industry briefing session:  the new breed of carriers and their customers are demanding, “Capacity where they want it, when they want it, for the duration they want it, and in flexible capacity increments.”


January 22, 2015 at 1:18 PM Leave a comment

Infinera’s Expanding FlexCoherent Toolkit allows Subsea Operators to Maximize Fiber Capacity and Reach


By Emily Burmeister, Ph.D.

Principal Subsea Development Engineer

Infinera’s subsea team has the exciting responsibility of traveling around the world in order to test and demonstrate Infinera’s world class technology on subsea networks. We recently had the opportunity to work with Telstra Global Enterprise Services to test our expanded tool set of FlexCoherent™ modulation formats and methods to improve fiber transmission performance. On this trial we focused on stressing our polarization-multiplexed (PM) 8QAM and (PM) 16QAM formats with our new, higher gain SD-FEC to achieve higher maximum capacity and further stretch the value and lifetime of the wet plant for our customer. This trial complemented an earlier one we performed with Telstra that tested our novel PM-3QAM modulation. The elegance of the Infinera Intelligent Transport Network design is that all modulation types (PM-BPSK, PM-3QAM, PM-QPSK, PM-8QAM, PM-16QAM) can be supported on a single line card based on the FlexCoherent Processor working in conjunction with our Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC).

The objective of a trial is to work toward achieving the most bits per Hz of repeater bandwidth and the most bits in a single line card to deliver the most efficient solution. The subsea link provides the boundary conditions – the repeater gain shape and power, the fiber type, the dispersion map, and the distances. In subsea more than anywhere else is it up to the transmission technology to adapt to the link, rather than designing the network to fit the achievable reach. Infinera’s FlexCoherent technology can do this adaptation on the line card itself by allowing the user to software-configure the modulation format and thus the reach and spectral efficiency.

In December the team headed to Japan and South Korea to demonstrate the benefit of the modulation formats with the highest spectral efficiency over a 2200 km, dispersion-managed link between the two countries. Unlike many previous “hero” experiments, our test was going to be on conventional submarine fiber that is widely deployed and not on the large area fiber that is just starting to be deployed in new submarine builds. We wanted to show what service providers can do with existing assets. From simulations and previous data it was expected that QPSK would have plenty of margin with our new higher gain SD-FEC. Extra margin means untapped potential capacity. The goal was to demonstrate the usefulness of the new modulation formats in our toolbox to reap that potential.


January 15, 2015 at 5:05 AM Leave a comment

Happy New Year from All of Us at Infinera

Tom Fallon 2By Tom Fallon


Celebrating the beginning of a new year provides an opportunity to both reflect on what we have achieved and look forward to what is to come in 2015.

When we started out, our goal as a company was to become the best optical networking company. In that regard, 2014 was another breakthrough year for us with dramatic increases in customers deploying our DTN-X packet optical network platform, and our entry into the metro cloud market with the Infinera Cloud Xpress for hyper-scale connectivity between data centers. In 2014, Infinera earned the honor of being ranked as “The Top Optical Hardware Vendor Worldwide” by Infonetics Research, and was named “2014 Leading Lights Public Company of the Year” by Light Reading. If that were not enough, we celebrated the 10-year anniversary of Infinera’s photonic integrated circuit – the revolutionary semiconductor technology at the core of our DTN-X and Cloud Xpress offerings, solving power and space issues in communications.

We expect even more opportunities in 2015 as we expand the capabilities of the Infinera Intelligent Transport Network. We plan to enhance our Cloud Xpress platform, to address the fast-growing 100G data center interconnect market, which according to ACG Research is forecast to grow to $4 billion by 2019.  In addition, we plan to continue to invest in enhancing the capabilities our award-winning DTN-X core platform for the long-haul market.

In partnership with you, our key customers, we expect to continue to break world records for optical provisioning times, enabling you to use time as a weapon to increase revenues with reliable, differentiated services while reducing operating costs through scale, multi-layer convergence and automation.

As part of our celebration of the new year, we’d like to celebrate you. Our focus is on offering you strategic business value and protecting your investments for the next decade through the creation of an infinite pool of intelligent bandwidth. Our aim is to exceed your expectations – by providing you industry-leading technology, innovative platforms, uncompromising reliability and stellar customer support. We look forward to a continued partnership as it is through your feedback that we are inspired to rethink network design, accelerate innovation and develop revolutionary technology that propels the industry forward.

It is my wish for you that 2015 is filled with success and that together we can exploit the increasing demand for bandwidth, whether in the long-haul, metro, or metro cloud market. Exceeding your expectations is at the center of everything we do.

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January 6, 2015 at 1:12 PM Leave a comment

Open Daylight Control of Converged Packet Optical Can Enhance Network Efficiency and Revenues for Service Providers


By Mike Capuano

VP, Corporate Marketing

Infinera is a member of the OpenDaylight Project, a community-led and industry-supported open source platform to advance Network Function Virtualization (NFV), and Software Defined Networking (SDN).  At Insight Infinera 2014 on September 18th, we demonstrated control of PXM, our new packet switching module, in the DTN-X from an SDN controller running the OpenDaylight Project’s open source software release.

I believe that the combination of NFV, SDN and efficient packet optical transport will provide service providers the most efficient network architecture to deliver and manage network services.  NFV allows previously appliance-based network functions such as intrusion detection systems (IDS), session border control (SBC), broadband remote access server (BRAS) and many others to run on top of virtual machines on commodity-off-the-shelf x86 servers (COTS).  SDN separates the data plane from the control plane, thereby enabling the underlying infrastructure to be abstracted and directly programmable with the potential for new revenue-generating applications and more efficient network architectures.


December 19, 2014 at 10:49 AM Leave a comment

From Inception to Shipping in Less Than a Year: Innovation Cycles for a New Generation

Mike KauffmanBy Mike Kauffman

Vice President, Hardware Development

Like many stories, this one starts in a bar.  In a bar, in January, on a Monday night.  Unlike many bad stories, this night wasn’t particularly dark nor stormy.  But the night was memorable, as it was a real beginning of what would become a new product family.

We were preparing to meet with a customer, a major internet content provider, to pitch an idea for a new product.    The account manager suggested that we float the idea the night before, in a more relaxed social setting, when meeting the customer in a bar.  It was here that when we told the customer what we were thinking, we first heard “no, that’s not really what we want.  But if you could make this modification, then maybe we would be interested.”

The next day we spoke about “this modification” and there was clearly mutual interest.  A month later we met again, with more details, and showed our development timeline.  Over the next few weeks, we met with another internet content provider who also expressed interest in our proposal, but they too, wanted a modification.  After some consideration, we determined that their change request was something we could accommodate without compromising the first customer’s requirements.

With strong feedback from two potential anchor customers, the product requirements were solid enough to begin the hardware design.  We leveraged proven technologies, including our Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC) and our AOLM2 super-channel line modules so that we could get a quick start.

We continued to meet with potential customers.  Another internet content provider.  A data center operator.  Another data center operator.  Sometimes our product concept matched the customer requirements, but a few times they didn’t fit perfectly.  We had to prioritize, make small tweaks if possible, and most importantly we had to stick to our committed schedule.  We knew that no single product can meet everyone’s requirements.  But we were pretty confident now that we could really solve a number of customers’ problems with our idea.

Three months after starting the design we had a technology test board up and running in the lab.  One month later, we had a mechanical mockup that conveyed all of the key physical features and really highlighted the compact size.  We showed the mechanical mockup to several dozen companies at NANOG 61, a technical forum attended by many networking companies and data center operators.  The feedback was resoundingly positive.

Soon, we had our first product prototype in the lab.  Within a few weeks, data was flowing through the entire system and we were able to close metro-distance optical links, carrying 480 Gb/s of traffic.  Immediately we were able to show the potential customers the product in operation.  Even at this stage we were still soliciting feedback for the final hardware design, and a key potential customer gave us another change request.  This change would make the product easier to service in the field.  While one part of you hopes that your designs don’t need to be tweaked, it was gratifying to hear this change request, as it showed that a potential customer was seriously thinking about how they would use the product and how they could avoid operational issues, even before we were ready to ship.

The working prototypes really expand the type and number of customer conversations you can have.  Potential customers see that the product is real, and not just a collection of slides.  And the number of positive customer conversations we had fueled the development team.  They knew that they were working on something that was different, that was innovative, and that was really needed.  The development pace picked up even more.

CX for blog

Infinera Cloud Xpress

I won’t say that the story ends in a bar, because the story is just beginning, and I don’t want to convey the impression that we spend all of our time in bars.  But we did have another meeting in a bar.   In a bar, in December, on a Monday night, less than one year after our first meeting in a bar.  This time, no customers were present, just the Infinera team that worked on Cloud Xpress.  This time, we were celebrating the fact that a few hours earlier, we had just started shipping in volume, the Cloud Xpress.

After months of hard work, the entire company had come together and delivered from inception to general availability a whole new optical transport product that delivers unprecedented density, consumes relatively little power, and packs a powerful 500G of capacity in a tiny 2RU size.  We had delivered the Cloud Xpress.  In less than one year we had gone from product concept to shipping product, and I believe that the future looks bright.

For more information on Cloud Xpress and its benefits, watch as Infinera Senior Vice President of Cloud Network Strategy and Technology Stu Elby talks about unleashing cloud networks:

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December 17, 2014 at 1:36 PM 2 comments

3 New Steps to a Cut-Throat Fundraising Competition—Employees Donate $73.8K to Second Harvest Food Bank in 48 Hours

jkirk-smBy Jessamyn Kirkwood

Sr. Manager, Internal Communication & Training

Last year, about this time, I published 3 Steps to a Cut-Throat Fundraising Competition – Employees Donate $37K to Second Harvest Food Bank in Less than 3 Weeks. In that article, I shared the elements of our 2013 drive that allowed us to quadruple our previous year’s giving.

Step 1: We put the execs in aprons. Then we turned them on each other.

Step 2: We took away the rules. If you can raise the money, we won’t ask how.

Step 3: We stayed flexible. Top priority: keep the momentum of the competition going.

President and Founder Dave Welch and VP Serge Melle face off in the Executive PB&J Event to see who can sell the most sandwiches to employees.

President and Founder Dave Welch and VP Serge Melle faced off in the Executive PB&J Event to see who could sell the most sandwiches to employees.

When it came time to start the planning process for 2014, the team was faced with a big challenge: can we repeat what we did last year? We assessed our resources, revisited our approach and decided that the answer was no. If Infinera was going to continue to make an impact and further establish ourselves as community champions, we couldn’t repeat what we did last year, we’d have to exceed it.


December 8, 2014 at 2:06 PM Leave a comment

Proof Positive: Virtual Router Announcements Reinforce the Importance of Highly Scalable Optics and a Converged Intelligent Transport Layer

Mike_Capuano_VP-Corporate-MarketingBy Mike Capuano

VP, Corporate Marketing

At Insight Infinera in September Infinera CEO Tom Fallon presented on two important trends that we are seeing in the marketplace that reinforce the importance of an Intelligent Transport Network.  The recent virtual router announcements by Juniper and Alcatel-Lucent are proof positive that this shift is underway.

The first trend Tom discussed was the rapid adoption and growth of cloud services and infrastructure, enabling Network Operators worldwide to actively deploy and architect their next generation networks with both Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Networking (SDN) in mind.  Network Operators are not only deploying their own dedicated data centers but are also turning central offices into data centers. Cable operators are doing the same with their head-ends and distribution hubs.  Network operators have begun to take advantage of the massive deployment of commodity x86 processing power to virtualize network functions that were previously housed in dedicated appliances.  Many service providers have stated that this network architecture could dramatically simplify, reduce cost, and increase the flexibility and scalability of their networks. Most thought that NFV would apply to Layer 4-7 functions such as Session Border Controllers (SBCs) and Evolved Packet Cores (EPCs) and Layer 3 only for low speed routing such as customer premise equipment (CPE). However recent performance tests and announcements by Brocade, Juniper and Alcatel-Lucent of virtualized edge router software-only implementations may portend the future of a “soft edge” network where edge routers are deployed on x86 COTS hardware.

Tom Tofigh, ATT: Presentation at ON.LABs October 2014

Tom Tofigh, ATT: Presentation at ON.LABs October 2014

The second trend he discussed is visible when you start to look at high speed and high capacity networking.


December 3, 2014 at 11:18 AM Leave a comment

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