September 22, 2016
Infinera laid down a benchmark in the data center interconnect (DCI) platform sector Wednesday by unveiling Cloud Xpress 2, its next-generation DCI platform, saying that the new product will address the need for greater and more scalable capacity between data centers as 100GigE connectivity becomes more commonplace. (See Infinera Intros Cloud Xpress 2.)
"The 100GigE boom started inside the data center" and that's now driving demand for multiple 100 GigE connections between data centers, according to Pravin Mahajan, director of product & corporate marketing at Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN), noting the new product has 12 x 100 GigE ports.
So, is there a wave to ride? Well, Infinera got its timing right when it launched the original Cloud Xpress platform in late 2014, predicting that the metro 100G market would pick up in the DCI space before metro aggregation demand kicked in. (See Infinera Targets Data Center Connectivity Market With Metro Platform.)
It has since picked up many Cloud Xpress customers, according to Mahajan. And now the vendor has used its feedback and recent product developments to improve all key metrics of its DCI platform. (See Windstream Uses Infinera Inside the Data Center, GÉANT Connects Data Centers With Infinera's Cloud Xpress, Phonoscope Chooses Infinera for Data Interconnect and Equinix Uses Infinera for DCI in Hong Kong.)
The new system, which will become commercially available during the first quarter of 2017, is the first to be built using the vendor's Infinite Capacity Engine (ICE), which was launched at OFC earlier this year. Mahajan also claims it's the first 1RU DCI box to enable more than 1 Tbit/s of capacity and be developed with in-built Layer 1 encryption and MACsec Layer 2 encryption capabilities. (See Infinera Revs Its Optical Engine.)
It is a much denser platform than the first Cloud Xpress system by a magnitude of almost 5x -- Cloud Xpress 2 enables 6 Tbit/s in a 5RU rack compared with 6 Tbit/s in a 24RU rack -- while power efficiency has been improved by more than 40% per 1 Tbit/s. As with other Infinera products it is simple to provision (that is a much cited attribute cited by customers) and supports automated management and open APIs for operators developing programmable networks.
Infinera's announcement comes just at the right time for the vendor, according to Heavy Reading senior analyst Sterling Perrin. "This was a move Infinera needed to make and it should be well received by the market. The original Cloud Xpress announcement in 2014 was impressive but competitors soon piled on with their own purpose-built DCI boxes in a series of announcements that each leap-frogged the others," notes the transport technology specialist. (See ADVA Boasts DCI Market Leadership, Juniper Closes BTI Acquisition to Beef Up DCI, Coriant Lights Up the DCI Market and Ciena Outfits Waveserver for Long Haul DCI.)
"Going on two years, Cloud Xpress was falling behind in capacity, density, and power consumption metrics. The new product puts Infinera, once again, back at the head of the pack on these metrics. But we doubt it will have the last word, and so this hyper-competitive progression will continue," predicts Perrin.
"The clearest advantage Infinera has in purpose-built DCI at the moment is experience. The Cloud Xpress is entrenched and Infinera is very close to the web-scale providers that are defining the market and the specs. Most purpose-built DCI boxes are not shipping or have only recently started. The majority of the market to date is still general-purpose metro DWDM, from companies such as ADVA and Ciena, and so we'll be watching to what extent purpose-built eats into the general purpose DWDM market. That trend is in its infancy," says Perrin.
For the latest developments in the hot DCI market, visit the dedicated data center interconnect content channel here at Light Reading.
And Infinera is certainly keeping a close eye on its rivals and, as you'd expect, claiming significant competitive advantages over its "nearest rival" in terms of capacity, efficiency and reach, but isn't prepared to cite direct product-to-product comparisons or refer to any independent "bake-off" results.
But this new launch is just for the top end of the market, targeted at the very largest data center operators: Mahajan notes that not every data center operator will want or need multiple 100 GigE DCI connections right now and that, naturally, means "there continues to be significant demand" for the original platform. Of course.
Infinera isn't talking about any specific trials currently, noting only that there is "lots of interest in Cloud Xpress 2 from our existing DCI customer base."
As Perrin notes, expect to hear of rival next-gen DCI systems from other vendors in the remaining months of 2016 and then to hear about the first customer deployments for Cloud Xpress 2 by mid-2017.
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading
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