Top Five Lessons Learned from DCI Deployments – Part One

May 01, 2017

By Jay Gill
Principal Product Marketing Manager


Since the first Cloud Xpress deployments for data center interconnect (DCI) over two years ago, Infinera has seen a lot of DCI applications and worked with a variety of customers, from hyperscale internet content providers (ICPs) to communication service providers (CSPs) to enterprises. We’ve learned a lot along the way, and we’ve evolved our Cloud Xpress Family of DCI platforms to meet our customers’ evolving needs. With the next generation of the Cloud Xpress, the Cloud Xpress 2, now coming to market, it’s a good time to take a look back and focus on a few lessons learned along the way. At the recent Data Center World conference in Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to discuss five lessons learned from DCI deployments in enterprises, CSPs and ICPs. Below are the first two lessons from enterprise DCI deployments. Next week we’ll return with the last three lessons from CSPs and ICPs.

Lesson #1: Simplicity is a critical ingredient enabling enterprises to build and scale their own wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) DCI solutions.

While the Cloud Xpress was originally designed with hyperscale ICPs in mind, it has also proven to be extremely popular with enterprises, and one of the main reasons is its extreme simplicity.

Simplicity started in the original Cloud Xpress with a unique system design, still unmatched in the industry, combining a WDM super-channel line-side output of 500 gigabits per second (Gb/s) on a single fiber pair with built-in amplification for 150 kilometer (km) reach without the need for external amplifiers. The result is that many enterprise customers can deploy a pair of Cloud Xpress devices to create a DCI link, and literally no other optical equipment is required. Now the Cloud Xpress 2 extends this “plug-and-play” capacity-reach advantage with a 1.2 terabit per second (Tb/s) super-channel output and 130 km of reach.

The other key component of simplicity for enterprise users is an easy 1-2-3 provisioning process that requires no optical networking expertise, as illustrated by the video Cloud Xpress: Simplest DCI Solution.

Simplicity, along with easy scalability using Instant Bandwidth, was a key reason that the very first Cloud Xpress customer was Blackboard, an enterprise customer needing very fast installation and service turn-up to integrate three data centers.

Simplicity was also a key reason that a major health care provider chose the Cloud Xpress to upgrade its DCI network, while also dramatically reducing the space and power requirements when compared to their prior optical network.

Lesson #2: A flexible mix of packet and optical technology can deliver optimized DCI solutions for enterprises.

While the Cloud Xpress is a great fit for many customers needing high-capacity Ethernet-only point-to-point DCI, not all customers fit this description. Some enterprises have more complex DCI requirements, including more variation in client interfaces, such as lower-speed Ethernet or Fibre Channel, varying network topologies and the need to accommodate a wider range of traffic flows. In this case, Infinera’s XTM Series can be a better fit.

Figure 1 shows the target architecture for a Fortune 500 manufacturer building optical DCI links to support its hybrid cloud strategy. Connections between the customer’s own data centers already require peak capacity of multiple Tb/s, while connections to a private cloud data center and to public cloud service providers at internet exchange data centers are growing as the customer migrates applications to the cloud. Employing a mix of optical switching for high-capacity DCI links, using reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexers (ROADMs) and carrier-grade Ethernet packet switching with robust quality of service for efficient handling of lower-bandwidth flows, a single packet-optical network can provide a solution optimized for today’s requirements and flexible enough to accommodate tomorrow’s uncertain growth and change requirements.

Blended DCI Network for Enterprise Hybrid Cloud
Figure 1: Blended DCI Network for Enterprise Hybrid Cloud

For more discussion of how DCI fits into enterprise hybrid cloud strategies, take a look at our new whitepaper, Data Center Interconnect for the Enterprise Hybrid Cloud.

Next week in Part 2 of this blog. we’ll look at three more lessons learned, from CSP and ICP deployments.

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