Data Center Interconnection – Not Quite So Simple

Rick Talbot
Rick Talbot

Summary Bullets:

  • Data center interconnection (DCI) transport is emerging as potentially a massive optical transport opportunity.
  • Regardless of the often-quoted demand for a simple point-to-point DCI transport solution, some applications are likely to be better served with a packet-optical solution.

DCI has become somewhat of a darling of the optical transport networking world. Once Facebook explained that most of the traffic that connects to its data centers (which is approximately 10% of the data flow within the data centers) came from other data centers, the market perceived that DCI would be a very big business, perhaps ultimately as large as all of telco transport. Simultaneously, many data center operators claimed that their requirements for DCI were not complex; all that was needed was to provide high-capacity/density and low-cost/power point-to-point connections between the data centers. In fact, some web-scale companies such as Microsoft and Google proposed a concept of do-it-yourself (DIY) transport in which the data center operator would purchase and assemble optical components to achieve a highly cost-effective DCI transport solution. Optical systems vendors, after fretting about losing out on this new DCI business segment, realized that this application actually presented them with a high volume (albeit at low margin) opportunity on top of their existing business. Some of the more nimble of those vendors quickly developed and introduced customized DCI transport platforms – Infinera’s Cloud Xpress, Cyan’s (now Ciena’s) N-Series, Ciena’s WaveServer and ADVA’s CloudConnect. After this mad dash to introduce products to address the point-to-point DCI application, perhaps it is time to examine the data center transport marketplace with a bit more perspective. Continue reading “Data Center Interconnection – Not Quite So Simple”