• Technical Conference:  30 March – 03 April 2025
  • Exhibition: 01 – 03 April 2025
  • Moscone Center, San Francisco, California, USA

Data Center Interconnect - Specific Solutions

By Lisa Huff, Discerning Analytics

Data center interconnect (DCI) is a growing market for the entire optical value chain – from carriers to optical component suppliers. Standard OTN, DWDM, Carrier Ethernet or legacy SONET/SDH alone cannot address the high-bandwidth, low-power and high-density demands of DCI. As a result, many equipment makers have developed specific solutions to address it. Some of these solutions are described below.

DCI Solution Description and Examples
Layer 2 – Ethernet Local area network (LAN) extension over dark fiber. This is the traditional DCI, which is being used by many enterprises today. Colocation and Internet data centers (IDCs)/cloud data centers (CDC) are transitioning at least some of their DCI from this to one of the other solutions detailed below. Cisco was one of the first network equipment manufacturers (NEMs) to focus on this solution with its Catalyst 6500 series and then Nexus 7000 series switches. This solution can be extended to Layer 3 by porting over IP or MPLS on these same sets of equipment. Alcatel-Lucent/Nokia provides the 7750 that has similar functionality to the Cisco solutions.
Open Optical Line System (OOLS) Specific to its DCI needs, Microsoft introduced the Open Line System (OLS) concept in 2015. This technology should be “a simplified platform that contains just the functions required to link two data centers together at either metro or long-haul distances.” Components would include coherent optical transmission, amplification, gain equalization, and perhaps ROADM functionality. It would have open APIs for network elements and standardized modeling of these elements and transceivers. And, coherent transceivers would be interoperable regardless of brand. The ultimate goal would be to provide fully interoperable programmable network functions. Other IDCs have similar requirements. An example of an OOLS DCI solution is ADVA’s FSP 3000.
Packet Optical As its name implies, packet optical networking technology converges packet switching with optical transport. It can combine OTN, Ethernet, packet, SONET/SDH, SAN and video. This holy grail of optical networking solutions has been in development for almost ten years and many network products have been released. What is different about a DCI Packet Optical solution is that it is open architecture using APIs and fulfills the high-density, low-power and high-bandwidth requirements. Several OEMs have products of this type for DCI: BTI Systems’ 7000 Series, Coriant 7100 Series, Infinera’s Cloud Xpress for metro and TM-Series for long-haul, Ciena’s Waveserver.
Carrier Ethernet Carrier Ethernet (CE) is defined by the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) and has found a home in mobile backhaul networks in recent years. A natural extension into a similar market would be the DCI one, but CE has, as of yet, not really caught on. However, the MEF has defined the use case for DCI for Cloud Providers (CP) in its technical specification MEF 47. According to this implementation agreement, DCI is considered a MEF E-Line service. NEMs that provide equipment for CE DCI implementations currently include Alcatel-Lucent/Nokia 1830PSS and Ciena’s 8700 Packetwave Platform.
During the OFC 2016 Service Provider Summit, a panel of experts will discuss some of these technologies:  Panel I:  Vertically Integrated WDM Platforms versus Open Line Systems takes place from 11:00-12:30 In Theater I, Wednesday March 23rd on the show floor. In addition, all of the NEMs mentioned above will be exhibiting on the show floor.

Lisa Huff is Principal Analyst at Discerning Analytics. She is a Certified Data Center Manager and electrical engineer focused on market research and analysis of data center technologies. You can see some of her work at www.discerninganalytics.com

Posted: 11 March 2016 by Lisa Huff, Discerning Analytics | with 0 comments

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The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition (OFC)  or its sponsors.