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Equinix Calls on Infinera

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
1/29/2008

Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN) has scored another win with a sales pitch centered around "bandwidth virtualization" -- what the vendor is calling its equipment's unique ability to decouple services from optics.

The company is announcing today that it won the favor of data center specialist Equinix Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX) largely on the density of the equipment and its ability to enable the quick provisioning of new services.

Equinix CTO Lane Patterson says his company picked Infinera because traditional Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) equipment, clocking in with 32 wavelengths of 10-Gbit/s bandwidth, was not enough for some Equinix customers. "The density of that equipment wasn't where it needed to be," Patterson says.

With Infinera equipment, Patterson notes, Equinix can deploy "80 waves before we have to acquire dark fiber."

On the provisioning side, Patterson says: "It's helpful that they have point-and-click provisioning and an easy-to-use self-managing platform."

Equinix follows backbone providers 360networks Inc. , Interoute Communications Ltd. , and XO Communications Inc. as customers that have deployed Infinera equipment with an eye toward taking advantage of bandwidth virtualization. (See Infinera Pulls a 360, Infinera Muscles Into Interoute, and XO Picks Infinera Again.)

"We've decoupled the service from the optics. Optics get added in advance, then services are added electronically as opposed to optically," meaning provisioning gets faster and easier, says Rick Dodd, Infinera's VP of product marketing.

Infinera had long marketed this ability as a way to save operating expenses by letting operators provision services without custom-tuning wavelengths. The company is now touting bandwidth virtualization as a way for service providers to attract new customers.

XO and Interoute, for example, are promoting "10 Gigs in 10 Days" service provisioning, which is made possible by Infinera gear in their networks. (See XO Sweats Its Optical Assets and Interoute Offers Rapid Capacity.)

Due to faster provisioning times, Infonetics Research Inc. principal analyst Michael Howard believes companies like XO will be able to wrestle business away from their competition.

"Any kind of quick-to-market or quick-to-provision ability is an advantage" in the highly competitive service provider market, Howard says. Bandwidth virtualization alone "will probably not cause carriers to buy Infinera [equipment], but it's a nice feature," he notes. That said, he believes the feature is "something that could make customers look at Infinera if they haven't in the past."

Still, Heavy Reading analyst Sterling Perrin says service providers need a certain level of capacity before it makes sense to deploy Infinera gear.

"This is only going to appeal to operators that have massive bandwidth requirements," Perrin says. "If you're an operator that only needs 50 Gbit/s, you probably wouldn't be interested in Infinera equipment."

— Ryan Lawler, Reporter, Light Reading

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