Finishing Strong: Insights from Infinera's 2021 Regional Partner Conference
October 26, 2021
By Jeff Babbitt
Sr. Manager Solutions Marketing
The last four months have been one of the most intensive learning experiences I have had in many years. I just started with Infinera after a long tenure at another optical company, in support of Infinera’s expansion of the resources allocated to partners. There are many new things to learn, including new people, new processes, new products, and a few new technologies. One of the new experiences was an Infnera partner conference. We just completed Infinera’s 2021 Regional Partner Conference series, which comprised three conferences, one each for APAC, EMEA, and the Americas. These conferences were held virtually on successive days and involved plenty of bidirectional communication between Infinera and our partners.
We started each session with a welcome and a corporate and organizational enhancement update from the respective Sales VP from each region. They also shared a few recent changes and additional investments in our partner program.
I presented on market trends and identified that the open optical networking and coherent optics submarkets are growing at faster rates than the overall market. Much of our new product development is focused on these two fast-growing segments of our target market.
We also shared the 8x4x1 mantra that drives and focuses our efforts at Infinera. 8x4x1 is a slogan developed from our observation that the line rates in the long-haul and subsea sectors of our market space are moving to the 800G generation of optical engines, the line rates in the metro are moving to 400G, and 100G is pushing into the access. It is easy to get distracted by the newest buzzword in telecom, and this simple slogan helps keep us focused on developing the best optical transport products in the industry.
XR Optics Provide Multiple Opportunities
During the product update section of the conference, a new and exciting technology called XR optics was highlighted. The trend of coherent optics moving into the access portion of the network presents a problem in that the topology in the access network is different from the topology in the core network. In metro, long-haul, and submarine networks, the topology is predominantly point-to-point, whereas in the access network, a point-to-multipoint topology is more prevalent. In addition to providing point-to-point optical spans, XR optics is a much more efficient way to economically deliver point-to-multipoint traffic. Some of the partners pointed out that in addition to reducing network costs when bringing coherent technology to the access network, XR optics also brings new business opportunities through network expansion. Since XR optics are pluggable, they represent a new revenue source for Infinera’s partners, enabling an expanded overall market opportunity.
New Wins with Open Optical Networking
While developing presentation material for the conference, I spent a considerable amount of time talking with our Infinera PartnerPlus team and Infinera’s partners. My goal was to identify and document recent wins. It was gratifying to learn about new partner wins in all regions and see how a win in one region generated insights that could be applicable to another region. Sharing and learning from each other is such an integral part of this program. As open optical networking continues to expand, we have seen numerous examples of Infinera’s GX Series products, including the G25, G30, and G42, being deployed over third-party line systems. The G25, with its 300-mm depth and prepackaged 2 x 600G configuration, was of particular interest due to its simplicity and near-universal deployability.
Auto-Lambda Simplicity to the Rescue
There were also numerous use cases that involved Auto-Lambda technology. Auto-Lambda can reduce capital costs with the elimination of transponders and reduce operational costs as the DWDM pluggable optic autotunes to the appropriate wavelength, thus avoiding the need to manually assign wavelengths. While discussing partner-related wins, the recent announcement from Globe (Globe Upgrades Network for 5G with Infinera’s Auto-Lambda Solution) was of interest, providing a tangible example of a 5G network evolution. For more details, see the recent blog from my colleague Jon Baldry about Globe’s deployment here (Plug and Play: How Auto-Lambda Simplified Globe Telecom’s 5G Rollout).
Virtual Round Table Discussions Can Be Meaningful
The most striking feature of this series of partner conferences was a long roundtable between Infinera’s leadership team and our partners. What resulted was a very candid discussion. The partners brought up many thoughts about how we can best work together and ways that our relationship could be improved. Some of the questions could be answered right on the spot, while others will require further discussion and action. Additionally, we assembled a long list of items to consider and work on, showing commitment to continuous collaborative improvement.
As I said earlier, this was a new experience to me. Although, in my previous position, I did work closely with partners and channels, we did not have meetings like this with partners at my previous company. I was struck by the sincere desire to more deeply collaborate with our partners and improve the partner program, with the goal of making them more successful while providing an open venue for them to work more closely with us. I look forward to many fruitful meetings like this in the future.