Data Center Interconnect

Coriant Adds DCI Density, Flexibility

Fresh off being named AT&T's choice of vendor for its 400-gig test, Coriant is on a bit of a roll this month, announcing its participation in the Telecom Infra Project and this week unveiling a new product that adds density and flexibility advantages in the highly competitive data center interconnect market. (See Coriant Boosts Density, Flexibility in DCI Solution, AT&T Looks to Push Industry Faster to 400G and Coriant Announces Support for TIP's Voyager.)

The new Open Line System (OLS) capabilities for the Coriant Groove 630 DCI put as much density into a single rack unit with its 96 channels as competitors have in three rack units and also enables network operators to address both coherent wavelengths and direct detect PAM4 wavelengths on a single system -- if not a single wavelength.

That ability to multiplex wavelengths onto a single fiber -- regardless of the origin of the wavelength -- will give network operators greater flexibility as they try to be more efficient in handling the growing bandwidth being carried between data centers, notes Tim Doiron, principal analyst of Intelligent Networking for ACG Research.

"That's a nice benefit -- a good step in the right direction," he tells Light Reading in an interview. That direction is disaggregation of the programmable optical network layer. "This gives network operators flexibility and more technical choices for their transponders."

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Since last March, when Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Inphi Corp. announced a reference design for delivering 100-gig connections for DCI using pulse amplitude modulation (PAM4) signaling, there has been growing interest in that technology, Doiron notes. By developing an OLS that can support PAM4, in addition to traditional coherent optics, Coriant offers network operators a means of delivering both -- though he stresses that doesn't include multiplexing both onto the same wavelength. (See Inphi Debuts Data Center Interconnect Gamechanger.)

Disaggregation of optical networking gear is something Coriant's customers have been demanding, says Zeljko Bulut, director of Product Line Management, DCI at Coriant. The OLS can be easily integrated into operations systems via northbound interfaces using YANG model-based NETCONF and RESTCONF open APIs or other options such as a command line interface, web-based GUI or SNMP, giving operators many options.

"We see this as an innovation accelerator," Bulut says. It builds on Coriant's introduction of the Groove 3.2 Tbit/s system for DCI a year ago and is just one in a series of planned additions, he adds.

The OLS can replace legacy gear that is vendor-specific and provide a path forward for network operators without requiring them to change out existing transponder gear, and letting them mix and match equipment going forward.

Andrew Schmitt, founder and lead analyst at Cignal AI, tells Light Reading other vendors are headed in this direction as well, noting Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN)'s announcement yesterday of a line system. He considers the open software support as the main advantage to Coriant's Groove OLS and questions when Open ROADM isn't part of this announcement. (See Infinera Intros the 'Meshponder'.)

Coriant also has a legitimate claim to new optical layer density, says analyst Doiron. "They have been able to make the packaging smaller, using high-density cabling," he notes. Part of that accomplishment is the Groove's ability to combine different pluggable optics in the same "sleds."

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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