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Ciena makes waves with new DCI platform

"It does one thing, insanely fast" - that's how Ciena introduced its new Waveserver platform, a compact yet high-capacity interconnect system tailored for the specific needs of the data centre interconnect (DCI) market.

Designed to interconnect multiple data centres within a metro area, Waverserver will allow cloud, Internet content providers and data centre providers to quickly scale bandwidth and support high-speed data transfer, virtual machine migration, and disaster recovery and backup between data centres.

With an extremely compact design, Ciena says the new Waveserver platform provides 60 per cent more capacity per rack unit and nearly twice the capacity (19.2Tb/s per fibre) versus competing available platforms, to support surging bandwidth demands of web-scale data centres.

Up to 44 pizza-box units can be stacked in a single rack, which can be managed and provisioned as a single group, giving the new platform massive capacity. As a result Waveserver provides significantly lower cost per transported bit, and lower power consumption versus available competing products, Ciena claims.

The DCI market is a rapidly growing segment of the optical hardware market. According to Ovum, overall global DCI revenue in 2014 grew more than 16 per cent, reaching $2.5 billion. Nearly one-half of all DCI spending in 2014 was from communications service providers, while the Internet content provider (ICP) segment grew 64 per cent year over year. Ovum expects overall global revenue to hit $4.2 billion by 2019.

“Traditional optical platforms were designed for telco environments not data centre environments making scale difficult. Ciena’s Waveserver stackable DCI platform is specifically designed for delivery of high-capacity DCI in a manner that is consistent with how ICP’s currently build and operate their networks,” explained Ron Kline, principal analyst, intelligent networks at Ovum.

The Waveserver platform is powered by Ciena’s WaveLogic 3 Extreme coherent chipset, which supports 200G wavelengths via 16-QAM (see Ciena debuts chips, architecture for a web-scale world). Each pizza-box-sized platform supports two of these wavelengths to create 400G of optical capacity on the line side, which is complemented by 400G-worth of client interfaces in an arbitrary mix of 10, 40, and 100 Gigabit Ethernet.

But Ciena says Waveserver “is more than just a hardware story”. With a set of open APIs, network providers can program Waveserver manually or remotely to quickly establish a connection via any smart device. Waveserver is designed to act as a “bandwidth server” to provide “server like” deployment and provisioning that integrates smoothly with IT systems.

In addition, Ciena has unveiled the Emulation Cloud capability, which it describes as a "prototyping environment" that allows customers, potential customers and even third-party application developers access to an emulated version of the Waveserver unit via their web browser.

“The requirements of the new DCI operational paradigm can only be met by introducing new functionalities, tools and capabilities that live and breathe at web-scale. Ciena’s Waveserver encompasses multiple attributes of web-scale IT into the network to handle connections, offer open APIs, and support applications for any bandwidth need between data centres,” said Francois Locoh-Donou, senior vice president, Global Products Group, Ciena

Although no customers have been announced, at least one potential customer looks interested. “Equinix infrastructure plays a critical role in the digital economy’s interconnected, on-demand era. Ciena’s Waveserver will enable us to provide more capacity – and more efficient data centre interconnect, using significantly less space and power, which will help us to cost effectively service our customers and rapidly grow our web-scale network,” said Jay Pabley, vice president, global network engineering, Equinix.

Other companies with products that address the DCI market include Cyan, a company that Ciena is in the process of acquiring (see Ciena buys Cyan for its software smarts).



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