Insight and analysis on the data center space from industry thought leaders.

Data Center Interconnection: Outlook for 100G DWDM Pizza Boxes

While it will remain a 10G world well into the future, the necessity to link data centers at the 100G rate is gradually climbing – and the pricing on these optics is expected to come down dramatically in the near term, writes Mark Lutkowitz of Packet Light Networks.

Industry Perspectives

February 13, 2014

4 Min Read
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Mark Lutkowitz’s present position is Product Sales Strategist at PacketLight Networks, which supplies DWDM and OTN equipment for networks providing data, storage, video, and voice services, including for dark fiber applications.



PacketLight Networks

While it will remain a 10G world well into the future, the necessity to link data centers at the 100G rate is gradually climbing – and the pricing on these optics is expected to come down dramatically in the near term.

Also, despite some companies blessed with ample space in their DCs, there is a good number of collocation centers, particularly in big metropolitan areas, in which the cost to rent and power an additional half or full rack needs to be factored into the entire recurring monthly cost (not to mention the enterprises exhausting their current space). In addition, the fiber optic infrastructure might be exhausted and utilizing it spectrally better with a single 100G wavelength in comparison with 10 channels of 10G may prove itself extremely beneficial in the short and long terms.

Building a Layer 1 DWDM optical network between data centers, provides unconstrained bandwidth in a ultra-low latency and high-security, autonomous environment. This strategic, managed optical network with the flexibility of both agnostic type- and rate- service offerings, as well as network configurations, are frequently quite compelling.

Furthermore, part of the optical infrastructure resources can be sold to third-party companies with a need for bandwidth between the same facilities. A common way is allocating several wavelengths and renting them. Support of alien wavelengths could easily be a requirement in order to continue to take advantage of the existing infrastructure as a source of revenue.

Network Evolution is Near

There is a high likelihood that much of the world market will ultimately follow the lead of several of the Tier 1 and 2 carriers in Japan. Instead of running over their existing backbone infrastructure, they are moving toward 1RU CPE solutions to facilitate 100G Managed Service Level Agreements with enterprises to interconnect DCs. With extensive prices pressures, the name of the game is going with the lowest cost solution. At the same time, the expectation of these companies is that such compact boxes will provide at least as much functionality found in a traditional DWDM chassis – encompassing pluggable optics on the client and network sides as well as remote management and performance monitoring – even the ability to perform as a media converter to deliver a 100G service is being requested.

Certainly, the critical cost element for a carrier is inherently helped with a pizza box compared with a full chassis in that the operational work is easier and the deployment is faster. There have been ample demonstrations of this tendency with 10GbE and GbE services.

One of the biggest aspects in the 100G pizza-box business related to keeping the operations cost down is the degree to which the customer can be given the choice of having features incorporated into that single device, such as the amplifiers, tunable DCMs, mux/demuxes, and optical switches (for protection). Moreover, the ability to have both the muxponder and transponder modes in the same solution can be a huge differentiator.

Seven additional key success factors include the following:

  • Adapting to the trend of longer distances demanded for data center interconnection as the results from disasters in recent years have demonstrated the need for greater separation. Using fewer wavelengths at higher capacity reduces the solution cost with the increase in distance.

  • Redundant AC power supplies, as well as pluggable fan units, with front access for easy maintenance, which is quite attractive for data centers.

  • Ease of maintenance and adequate support as some data center engineers are not familiar with DWDM technology – very user-friendly network management tools are vital.

  • Same platform to migrate from 10G to 40G to 100G, as well as provide any mixture of 10G/40G services in the muxponder (as alluded to above).

  • Product development experience with 1RU transport products, allowing for the compacting of the largest number of optical ingredients. It is about skinning down from a standard chassis to fit into a pizza box to reduce the power consumption, rack space, and external fiber patches.

  • Expand the optical network future capacity without being bounded to a certain chassis, which may limit the future expansion to 400G (obviously, even way further out than 100G in terms of mass deployment). A stackable solution can be much more robust from future limitations on power usage, slot size, and backplane design.

  • Making sure that in the very unlikely event of the internal CPU failing, it is completely isolated from the traffic path. Rebooting can occur with a software download to the device.

Other important competitive advantages for 100G DWDM pizza box suppliers in penetrating the DC interconnection space can include support of 40G with QSFP+, capabilities of passing the 100G over ROADMs, protection of optics/interfaces, usage of direct detection solutions (as opposed to coherent technology), and the employment of standard optics.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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