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Data Center Interconnect

Infinera Ups DCI to 100 Gigabit Ethernet

Infinera has added more firepower to its data center interconnect (DCI) arsenal, announcing a new version of its Cloud Xpress metro cloud platform with 100 Gigabit Ethernet client-side interfaces, adding to a line-up that already includes 10GE and 40GE offerings.

Also, in a nod to the ongoing march of SDN and transport networking security, Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN) has added support for NETCONF, YANG and the MACsec encryption protocol to the Cloud Xpress, along with support for Link Layer Discovery Protocol, which speeds the ability of Ethernet devices to discover and connect with one another. (See Infinera Unveils 100GE Cloud Xpress.)

"We're just starting to see a proliferation of 100G Ethernet interfaces on switches and routers," Vinay Rathore, director of solutions marketing at Infinera, told Light Reading. "We expect 100G to be a volume product [not just something for spot deployments where the need is most obvious]." The new Cloud Xpress 100GE platform is debuting at the Next Generation Optical Networking event this week in Nice, France.

While 100 Gig Ethernet demand wasn't entirely clear even a year ago, it is quickly becoming a standard in the drive to interconnect data centers, he said, adding that carrier-neutral data center operator Equinix Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX) "was the one that told us, 'You really need 100 Gig in this product.'"

(Ed. Note: Equinix is a known customer of Infinera's DTN-X platform. It hasn't been named as a Cloud Xpress customer, and Rathore declined to identify it as such, saying only that Equinix has been really, REALLY supportive as a voice in the product's development.)

Jay Gill, principal product marketing manager at Infinera, added, "We've seen the tipping point for 100G because it has become more cost-effective," even to the point that Infinera sees a use case for using 100G for intra-data center interconnection, as customers look to link equipment located on different floors in large data centers, rather than using potentially expensive 10G cross-connects in those instances.

Though Infinera was not the first vendor with a platform optimized for DCI, it has moved fairly quickly into the burgeoning space. The Cloud Xpress "began as a conversation in a bar" in January 2014, Rathore said. It was developed (not at the same bar, we can only assume, but if it was -- well played, Infinera!) in the ensuing months and announced in September of 2014. The first version of the platform, supporting 40GE, was shipped in December 2014, and the next version, with 10GE, followed in March of this year. (See Infinera Targets Data Center Connectivity Market With Metro Platform.)

Infinera also is not the first vendor with a DCI platform supporting 100G. BTI Systems Inc. announced its BTI 7800 platform with support for 2x100G configurations in 2013 and this week noted a recent uptick in customers using 100G for DCI. (See BTI Boasts 100G Cloudburst.)


Want to know more about all things optical? Check out our dedicated optical content channel right here on Light Reading.


However, the DCI market is not all about speeds and feeds. As the original Cloud Xpress and other dedicated DCI platforms have demonstrated, a premium has been placed on space and power. Infinera's platform relies on the company's oPIC-500 optical engine to support up to 500G in a two-rack unit format, with typical power consumption about 500 watts.

"We always want to get the power down as low as we can go, but there is a general goal now of one watt per gig of traffic," Rathore said. "There used to be something of an industry standard of 2.5 watts to 3 watts [pre gigabit]," but that won't do for DCI.

In addition, Rathore said the NETCONF and YANG support reflects how "data centers are all about automation, with the growing use of SDN, and a DCI product needs to integrate smoothly with the automation and management capabilities of a data center."

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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