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Faster, Higher, Farther – Network Speeds Go Nowhere But Up

By Casimer DeCusatis, Ph.D. | Posted: 24 January 2013

I feel the need….the need for speed!

Time seems to be going by faster and faster – it seems like we just got done celebrating the new year, and we’re already getting ready for OFC/NFOEC in March. And it’s certain that faster speeds will also be the subject of much discussion at this year’s conference. I’d like to slow things down a bit, though, and reflect on what’s been going on in the industry to drive the most recent push towards higher and higher data rates over longer and longer optical networks.

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OFC/NFOEC moves to new dimensions!

By Dr. Ioannis Tomkos | Posted: 24 January 2013

A common issue that the OFC/NFOEC community has tried to address since the first OFC took place 38 years ago is how to increase the capacity of optical communications systems, which remains an important and challenging problem to this day. To address these capacity scaling needs, optical communications scientists try to explore all possible “dimensions” and properties of light, most recently the multiple spatial modes in multi-mode fibers. 

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OFC/NFOEC is always about the “next generation”

By Dr. Ioannis Tomkos | Posted: 21 December 2012

OFC/NFOEC is always about the “next generation” of technology, devices, components, systems and networks.  It is a venue where major research breakthroughs are presented for the first time and where all new scientific and technology developments are discussed. The term “next-generation” used in the OFC/NFOEC community often indicates what is coming up in the arena of access networks with fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) architectures and the relevant service offerings. In this research area, there is a tendency to use the term “next generation (NG)” for every technology that comes after the currently deployed FTTH networks.

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Data without borders: exploring the optical WAN at OFC/NFOEC 2013

By Casimer DeCusatis, Ph.D., Distinguished Engineer, IBM System Networking Strategic Alliances, Member, IBM Academy of Technology IBM Corporation | Posted: 18 December 2012

Years ago, the distinction between telecommunications and data communications was pretty clear.  Telecommunications referred to moving information (usually voice traffic) over long distances (hundreds or thousands of km), while everything else that stayed within a single data center was called data communication.  Long distance voice traffic ran over ATM and SONET protocols, while many data centers contained a mixture of local area networks (Ethernet), storage area networks (Fibre Channel), clustering fabrics (InfiniBand), and other lesser used or proprietary protocols.  Today, of course, the line between these two fields is blurry at best, and many people would argue that there really isn’t a meaningful distinction between them any longer.  With the advent of new applications such as cloud computing and a renewed interest in long-standing applications such as disaster backup and business continuity, all types of traffic need to run well at extended distances.  In this blog, we’ll consider the brave new world of distance-independent networking and protocol agnostic channel extenders using wavelength division multiplexing (WDM), a couple of topics that are sure to be widely discussed and debated in the many workshops and panels for OFC/NFOEC 2013

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How “flexible” will OFC/NFOEC 2013 be?

By Dr. Ioannis Tomkos | Posted: 13 December 2012

The world we live in is constantly changing. We see big transformations taking place across the globe that affect our lives. In such turbulent times, we all need to be flexible and adapt quickly to new conditions. As Darwin said, it is not the strongest that will survive but the fittest.

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Software-Defined Networking: The Next Frontier

By Casimer DeCusatis, Ph.D. Distinguished Engineer IBM System Networking, CTO Strategic Alliances Member, IBM Academy of Technology IBM Corporation | Posted: 26 November 2012

“May you live in interesting times” – reputed translation of an ancient Chinese curse and proverb, though its true origin remains in doubt (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_you_live_in_interesting_times )
 
I can honestly say that this is the most interesting time to be involved in network engineering for at least the past 20 years.  In fact, we’re going through a major discontinuity in the networking industry, perhaps the largest since Ethernet was first invented inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa111598.htm .  One of the major drives of this change is software-defined networking (SDN), a different approach to Ethernet design that overturns much of what we’ve taken for granted about how data flows should be manipulated.  There will certainly be a lot of discussion about this during OFC/NFOEC 2013, so in this blog I’ll give you a small sample of what to expect. 

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Optics in the Clouds: How will OFC/NFOEC address cloud computing?

By Casimer DeCusatis, Ph.D. Distinguished Engineer IBM System Networking, CTO Strategic Alliances Member, IBM Academy of Technology IBM Corporation | Posted: 7 November 2012

As we gear up for the 2013 OFC/NFOEC conference presentations, cloud computing is certainly one of the most anticipated hot topics.  The information technology industry continues to deploy dynamic, multi-tenant cloud computing environments for applications ranging from retail and banking to video distribution.  It’s become clear that cloud technology is a significant driver for optical networking, and that optical networks designed for the cloud have unique characteristics.  In this blog, I’ll talk about how cloud computing is changing the face of data networking, and point out some of the things to look for at this year’s OFC/NFOEC meeting.

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Another OFC/NFOEC is coming up! Why bother?

By Dr. Ioannis Tomkos | Posted: 24 October 2012

Another OFC/NFOEC is coming up! Most of us in the optical fiber communications community are looking forward to the event in March 2013. Although not all will be able to attend, it is certainly an event we all pay attention to as it generates news, research and industry trends and “sets the rhythm” in the respective scientific fields.

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Optical Interconnects – Less Power to Them! (and why that’s a good thing)

By Casimer DeCusatis, Ph.D. | Posted: 28 September 2012

Energy consumption is quite literally a hot topic for data center designers these days.  A recent year-long study on this topic, published by the New York Times, provides an interesting perspective on this problem.  According to the article, while most companies are reluctant to share details of their data center designs, it can be shown that a single data center supporting Amazon, Google, Facebook, or many other household names can easily consume as much power as a small city.  Data centers worldwide consume around 30 billion watts of electricity, the equivalent of about 30 nuclear power plants.  The power required to  run servers, networks, and storage may only be a fraction of this total; heating and cooling of the data center also contributes to overall power consumption, as well as redundant power in the form of backup generators and batteries. 

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Top 5 reasons why I went to OFC last year (and why I’m going back in 2013)

By Casimer DeCusatis, Ph.D., Distinguished Engineer, IBM System Networking Strategic Alliances, CTO Strategic Alliances, Member, IBM Academy of Technology, IBM Corporation | Posted: 26 September 2012

I’m going to go out on a limb here – I’ll bet that your work has been crazy busy lately, worse than last year, with tighter budgets and constant demands to do more with less.  Did you even find time to take a decent vacation this summer, or were you too busy checking email every day?  In fact, how did you even find the time to read this blog? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way; you’re invested in it now, a full four sentences in, so you may as well keep going.

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