Google Eyes ‘Optical Express’ for its Network

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Google’s Senior Network Architect Bikash Koley said that machine-to-machine traffic is rising at Google and as such the company reconsidering overall optical network choices. Koley discussed Google’s networking challenges at Light Reading Live’s second annual Packet-Optical Transport Evolution conference, which brought out a who’s who list of network engineers at large companies.

With a huge demand growing for data and video applications for both fixed and mobile markets, the global optical network market continues to grow alongside it. The biggest management challenges are found at the largest players in Internet traffic, including Google.

Traffic Between Data Centers
Koley hypothesized that a separate “optical express” network for machine-to-machine traffic might be cheaper if that type of traffic doubled in the future. That type of volume could require Google to effectively run two types of networks – an accelerated optical network to move data between the company’s data centers, and a network infrastructure for user-facing queries.

Koley also called for label-switched routing and DWDM capabilities to be combined into one box.  Koley also repeated a call for faster Ethernet. “We want 100 Gigabit (Ethernet),” he said. “If somebody can give me a cost-effective 8-Tbit/s pipe I can fill it up.”  It sounds like not enough progress has been made since Koley and Facebook’s Don Lee made their case for faster Ethernet last September.

Another vendor plea was made by Level 3 senior VP of transport and infrastructure, Paul Savill, who echoed a familiar data center issue by noting that space and power are becoming more and more significant in the total cost structure.

“The equipment we are deploying is getting smaller and can deliver twice as much bandwidth, but it is still sucking down the same power and cooling [of the bigger boxes] so we can’t use the additional space we save because our sites are power-constrained,” said Savill. He also called for greater hooks from vendor gear into Operational Support Systems and a focus of reducing operational expenses like vendors have done with capital expenditures.

The message from Verizon’s director of backbone network architecture Glenn Wellbrock was that telecom operators need more flexible optical equipment to facilitate the migration to 100-Gbit/s networks and beyond.  Calling for greater flexibility in ROADMs (Reconfigurable Optical Add-Drop Multiplexer) Wellbrock said that equipment vendors need to sort out where the industry will go after 100Gig is implemented.

AT&T’s Margaret Chiosi expounded on their woes with 40 Gbit/s equipment, where they are now on their fourth generation of products, after chasing a large problem down to a single chip that was ubiquitous in 40-Gbit/s gear. The Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) is developing a 100-Gbit/s framework that can serve as a unified front for the industry.

Cisco saved an acquisition announcement for the event, announcing plans to acquire transponder vendor CoreOptics Inc. for $99 million in cash plus incentives. CoreOptics makes high-speed transponder modules, including a Coherent 40G 40-Gbit/s model.  “With this acquisition, Cisco reinforces its commitment to continue to invest in its core networking business and to deliver IP next-generation networks at 100 Gbps and beyond,” said Surya Panditi, vice president and general manager, Cisco’s Service Provider Access and Transport Technology Group.

About the Author

John Rath is a veteran IT professional and regular contributor at Data Center Knowledge. He has served many roles in the data center, including support, system administration, web development and facility management.

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