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100G Inside? Data Centers Will Get It

Dan O'Shea
4/7/2014
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Market activity for 100G deployment has exploded in the last year or so, primarily in the long-haul part of carrier networks, and most indications are that the metro market for 100G is about to take off, too. But there may soon be yet another market segment for 100G to conquer, if a new industry alliance has anything to do with it.

The 100G CLR4 Alliance debuted at Interop last week in Las Vegas, and if you missed it, that may not surprise alliance members, including co-leaders Arista Networks Inc. and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC). Those companies feel the industry already has been missing a big opportunity for deploying 100G within large data centers. While much of the industry's attention is focused on deploying 100G anywhere from hundreds to tens of kilometers, the 100G CLR4 Alliance contends that increasingly large data centers present a growing opportunity to use 100G at spans between 100 m and 2 km.

To those who are familiar with Arista's product lineup, this effort might sound as if Arista and its semiconductor partner Intel are simply priming the market for Arista's own switching gear. But the group already has more than 20 members, including data center vendors, semiconductor companies, and even a carrier network vendor fan in Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN). (See the full list, with some commentary by Intel and Arista, here.)

While there have been some efforts through the IEEE to develop a standard for 100G at a small form factor and short reach, relatively speaking, for data centers, not much has come of those efforts. That is hard to believe, given that we have started using the term "hyperscale" to describe how big data centers have grown and how fast they continue to grow. Now, the new group is looking to work fast to produce a specification, possibly as soon as next month.

The 100G CLR4 Alliance is not alone, however, on that path. Several other companies already are pursuing their own 100G developments for the data center, including Avago Technologies Pte. , which earlier this month announced a solution for 550 m. Also, there are at least two more group projects covering the same ground. Avago is part of the CWDM4-MSA, and Ranovus Inc. and Mellanox Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: MLNX) recently formed the OpenOptics MSA targeting development of 100G at 2 km and beyond, with data centers as a primary application. (See Avago Pursues 100G Data Center Links.)

When multiple industry groups work the same territory without a standards group getting involved, there is opportunity for conflict and confusion, so let's hope these two groups communicate with one another or perhaps merge efforts if that makes sense. In terms of the broader market picture, however, these efforts further show just how pervasively data center matters are now influencing the broader telecom industry, just how much opportunity remains for developers and suppliers of 100G, and just how insatiable our hunger for bandwidth continues to be in every corner of the network.

Some other recent 100G news:

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading


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DOShea
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DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
4/8/2014 | 8:57:01 AM
Re: Many groups
Yes, s I understand it, these groups are looking at the space in between those standards, with the some length requirements in current data centers gettng up toward 500 m and beyond as the data centers are getting larger.
jean-christophe manciot
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jean-christophe manciot,
User Rank: Light Beer
4/8/2014 | 5:01:19 AM
Re: Many groups
There are standards already regarding 100G Ethernet: IEEE 802.3ba and 802.3bm 100G over Optical Fiber; 100GBase-SR10/SR4 (100 m), LR10/LR4 (10 km), not mentionning 100GE over copper (5/7 m).
DOShea
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DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
4/7/2014 | 5:00:39 PM
Many groups
I added the reference to the CWDM4-MSA after a reader mentioned it http://www.cwdm4-msa.org/. Also, here is the OpenOptics MSA site http://www.openopticsmsa.org/, and believe it or not, I hear there is at least one more in play. More to come...
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