Networking startup Fiber Mountain emerged from stealth at Interop earlier this month, introducing a suite of optical switch technologies.
The Cheshire, Connecticut-based company refers to its technological approach as "Glass Core" -- software-controlled fiber optic connectivity that emulates benefits of direct-attached connectivity from any port to any other port in the data center, be it on a server, a storage device, a switch or a router.
Fiber Mountain founder and CEO M.H. Raza said the technology is different from other software-defined network solutions in that it provides a physical fiber path between end points rather than a virtual one. Raza describes it as connectivity virtualization: fiber-optic cables that can be programmed in software.
The Glass Core is accompanied by the vendor's Alpine Orchestration System, which is a single-pane intelligent software application that can discover and visually present every device and connection within a data center network. With AOS the network layer allows Programmable Light Paths to be created, which can connect any two points across the glass core, whether 10 Gbps, 40 Gbps or 100 Gbps.
Fiber Mountain's claim to cost savings comes from using PLPs instead of passing packets from switch to switch, thus eliminating the wasted processing power and cooling capacity. Instead of sending all traffic to a core switch and back down, which adds to latency, its approach avoids as much packet processing as possible.
The possibilities expand even further once adoption of silicon photonics in servers increases.
“For too long, the answer to exponentially expanding network traffic caused by bandwidth-hungry applications has been bigger, more complex hardware in the data center,” Raza said. “This has resulted in huge capital expenditures and operational issues related to size, complexity and power consumption of the data center’s expanding architecture.
"This is simply not sustainable. Fiber Mountain has taken an approach to helping enterprises simplify the network, and manage growth through software-based intelligence accompanied by a reduction in hardware proliferation, allowing data centers to reach hyperscale at a fraction of the cost.”
Fiber Mountain offers a series of physical-layer fiber products to make up the fiber optic connectivity fabric. The AllPath SDN devices are primary to the Glass Core topology, and Alpine Connect fiber products are comprised of cross-connect panels, standard modules, and custom modules.
Fiber Mountain offers an AOS turn-key appliance as well, with integrated AOS application software. The company says its architecture will also work with white box top-of-rack switches.