Infinera's Big Customer Reveal: Facebook

Infinera is supplying gear for Facebook's European network, the vendor announced Tuesday in something of a coup. This is believed to be the first time Infinera, or any optical vendor, has confirmed Facebook as a customer, a fact that is likely to overshadow any technical details associated with the success.

While Infinera has thrived on its perceived ability to land non-traditional telecom service provider customers, it has offered very little details about who these customers are. In fact, virtually every optical vendor reported to be working with the web giants has declined to name such customers, usually citing non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

Still, while the Facebook reveal no doubt will prove meaningful for Infinera, it should not come as much of a surprise, given that the companies were rumored to be working together as early as 2008. (See Infinera Adds a Friend.)

"The most surprising thing here is not that Facebook is using Infinera for long-haul DWDM transport, but that the announcement was made at all," says Heavy Reading senior analyst Sterling Perrin. "The big Web 2.0 providers have been using the major optical suppliers for long haul transport for years, but they have been extremely secretive about supplier disclosures, including press releases or even simply allowing a supplier to state the customer's name."

As this article was published, Light Reading was awaiting further comment from Infinera, but the press release issued Tuesday called the deployment of Infinera’s DTN-X platform on Facebook's European network "the world's longest terrestrial optical network route," adding further that it involves "eight terabits per second of data transmission capacity. The new route spans 3,998 kilometers and is deployed without any regeneration." (See Infinera Tapped for Facebook Euro Network.)

The timing of the announcement also is significant, coming the week after OFC 2015 in Los Angeles, a conference that featured a speaking appearance by at least one Facebook network engineer and much discussion by vendors about how they are crafting products and adjusting sales pitches to capture the attention of web-scale customers. (See Facebook Wants to See Optical Sector M&A.)

Want to know more about the networking moves of web giants? It’s sure to be a hot topic at Light Reading's second Big Telecom Event on June 9-10 in Chicago. Get yourself registered today or get left behind!

Infinera has ridden its reputation for success with non-telco customers to several quarters of earnings successes and a stock value that has more than doubled over the last year. News of the Facebook relationship sent INFN shares up again in Monday morning trading. (See Infinera Strategy Pays Off, Stock Soars.)

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

DOShea 3/31/2015 | 5:34:19 PM
Infinera comment This is more of a "no comment" than a I comment, but I did end up talk to Mark Showalter, senior director of corporate marketing at Infinera, this afternoon. I asked if Infinera has done other projects with facebook before this one. He said: "As you know, Facebook is not a big fan of doing supplier announcements. There is nothing else they would like us to talk about today." 

But the association, now public, regardless of how long it has been going on, is going to be a nice calling card for Infinera in the future.
Mitch Wagner 3/31/2015 | 3:50:17 PM
Coup I would expect a company of Facebook's size would use every vendor for everything. Coup for Infinera that they got Facebook willing to talk about it though. 
thebulk 3/31/2015 | 2:56:17 PM
Re: Good @danielcawrey, no doubt this is going to be a marketing win, a big, big win. 
danielcawrey 3/31/2015 | 2:31:35 PM
Good This is really going to help Infinera get new customers. Most of the time vendors aren't allow to talk about big clients like Facebook. But this will help the company tremendously from a marketing and sales standpoint. 
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