Summer 2018 Optical Connections Magazine


The Changing Face of Datacentre Interconnect

The move from single to multiple datacentres and the attendant rise in data flow volumes is driving fibre optics industry to seek higher levels of technical performance, writes John Williamson

must-have. Variable bit-rate coherent receivers that deliver maximum fibre capacities are needed to maximise spectral eciency,” says Xenos. “Lastly, operational simplicity and open standard APIs enable mass deployments and make back-oce systems integration easier.”


Automation of management and

D atacentre Interconnect (DCI) is a multi-faceted activity and industry. Intra-, inter- and long haul-DCI are three of the main iterations. Hyper-scale, compact and containerised datacentre and colocation facilities can be involved. Services can be provided in-house, by Communication Service Providers (CSPs) and by specialised operators. From the perspective of optical DCI, the sector is exhibiting fairly robust growth. According to a new report from IHS Markit, year-over-year optical DCI hardware revenue grew by 26% globally, reaching US$2.6 billion in 2017. The analyst firm predicts that by 2022 this market will exceed US$5 billion in annual sales and represent close to 30% of all Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) equipment spending. Within the overall optical DCI market, IHS Markit finds that the compact DCI transport equipment sub-segment grew briskly by over 200% in 2017, reaching US$483 million in revenue.

Internet Content Providers (ICPs) to circumvent potentially damaging service bottlenecks; the growing popularity of the cloud for hosting and delivering content and enterprise applications; the eciencies of DCI-enabled resource sharing, load balancing and trac capacity scaling; the contemporary premium placed by businesses on data back-up and operational resilience; a desire for increased geographic market footprint and reach; reduced trac latency; and lower power and real estate requirements.

configuration is becoming a big deal, too. Duncan Ellis, EMEA director

at datacentre cabling specialist Wave2Wave Solution

Corp, acknowledges that the datacentre has always been a hotbed of innovation, whether it’s server or storage virtualisation, Software-Defined Networking (SDN) or improvements in design and cooling. Yet innovation has been relatively slow to reach the physical layer. “The process of connecting fibres still requires engineers to manually patch together cables whenever reconfiguration is required, or when new services are turned up,” he points out. “This labour-intensive process is slow and, with up to 28% of datacentre outages being caused by patching errors, is highly error-prone and is thus completely out of step with customers’ on-demand, high-availability requirements. In short, interconnect innovation is approximately 20 years behind the rest of the datacentre.” Here an alternative to MEMS optical switching and optical-electrical-optical solutions is robotics. “Robots are now being deployed that enable fibre interconnects to be made automatically, remotely, quickly, and without on-site manual intervention,” says Ellis. “Rather than taking hours, days or even weeks, this process takes just a few seconds,

MODERN DCI MUSTHAVES These drivers have a number of implications for today’s builders,

operators and users of datacentres and DCI systems. According to Helen Xenos, senior director of product marketing at Ciena, there’s

a check-list of technical elements needed for successful DCI

DCI DRIVERS The continuing worldwide trend towards the interconnection of


These include platform capacity/density to reduce footprint requirements, and power eciency to condense ongoing energy and cooling costs. “The ability to operate over any fibre and system line, including third-party line systems, is also a technical performance

separate datacentre sites or facilities has several, sometimes interrelated, drivers. Included can be: the need for enterprises and organisations to deal with dramatically rising data flow volumes; the analogous requirement of CSPs and


| ISSUE 13 | Q2 2018

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