I know I must have posted this article back in November, but I recently found it again while searching for clues on what to expect AFTER the quarterly report (e.g. the quarter we are actually in). Just to see where guidance may be lining up.
The article below makes a compelling case for Infinera’s DCI solution AND Arista’s switch in the ICP environment. It was from an event that occured right in the middle of last quarter.
Next-Gen Data Center Interconnect Tech Enables Explosion of Online Video and Cloud Services
It takes a lot of sophisticated technology to pull off something like Yahoo and CBS’s first-ever global webcast of an NFL game in October that reportedly matched the quality of satellite TV broadcasts, but one of the fundamental pieces of infrastructure high-quality internet video couldn’t exist without is high-bandwidth, low-latency data center interconnect technology. These are boxes that push massive amounts of data over long-distance optical networks at ultra-high speeds from one data center to another.
The explosion of internet video is changing nearly everything about how the internet is built, from its geographic layout down to the specific interconnect technologies inside data centers and top-of-rack network switches that move packets between those optical interconnect boxes – also referred to as DCI – and servers that store and process the data. One big change happening on the DCI front is the transition to 100 Gigabit Ethernet, the standard defined five years ago for pushing unprecedented amounts of data over networks.
While online video is the biggest driver for 100 GbE data center interconnection, other applications, such as cloud services and enterprise disaster recovery or business continuity, are also contributing to the shift to higher-bandwidth DCI.
“Video is probably the number-one driver, because that’s driving significant demand on the public internet,” Ihab Tarazi, CTO of Equinix, the world’s largest data center colocation and interconnection service provider, said. Equinix data centers around the world are where much of the interconnection between network carriers, digital content companies, cloud service providers, enterprises, and internet service providers happens.
DCI vendor Infinera and data center networking switch supplier Arista Networks, both of whose products Equinix deploys widely, recently published test results of a joint DCI solution that showcases the kind of capabilities modern technology for shuttling data over long distances has.
The test, overseen and validated by independent data center networking technology testing organization called The Lippis Report, confirmed 100 GbE throughput at latency under 20 microseconds with zero loss for “any mix of traffic” end to end. That’s data traveling from a server in one data center through an Arista switch to an Infinera DCI box, over up to 150 kilometers of fiber into another Infinera DCI box at a remote data center, and through another Arista switch to another server in less than 20 microseconds, uncompromised. The solution was tested at 10 Gigabits per second and at 100 Gbps, according to the test report.
The optical DCI transport platform was Infinera’s Cloud Xpress, tested with Arista’s 7280 switches.
Here’s a summary of the results, validated by The Lippis Report:
End-to-end 100 GbE line-rate throughput with zero loss for any mix of traffic
End-to-end latency under 20 microseconds between servers in different data centers
Up to 500 gigabit per second dense wavelength division multiplexing bandwidth with a single two-rack-unit Infinera Cloud Xpress
Ability to extend over 150 kilometers without any external amplification
Less than one watt per Gb/s for the Cloud Xpress
Arista, a major supplier of data center switches to web-scale data center operators, including Facebook, Morgan Stanley, and Netflix, released its 7280 switches into general availability earlier this year, according to Carl Engineer, who runs business development for the vendor. This is the first time Arista has partnered with an optical-interconnect vendor on a joint solution.
The purpose of the test was to ensure Arista’s new switch, one of the first 100 GbE top-of-rack data center switches on the market, worked with Infinera’s 100-Gig DCI, Engineer said.
Realizing Arista and Infinera had already formed a partnership, so putting a test together in this spirit seems only natural, but another reason why Arista may have wanted the test is to make sure it’s 100 GbE switch is the one selected to go with Infinera’s DCI. Meaning, it is the DCI solution that is already established at the ICPs. More evidence of that below…
“Cloud titans,” such as Netflix, eBay, Microsoft, and Google, among others, are keen to switch to 100-Gig Wide Area Networks because of skyrocketing network traffic. The combination of Infinera Cloud Xpress and Arista’s 100-Gig switches is a good way to do it with minimal amount of equipment, he explained.
There are also some target enterprise customers that have decided to move more of their infrastructure to the cloud and who can benefit by using 100-Gig DCI technology to interconnect their on-premise data centers with infrastructure of their cloud service providers.
Uptake for Infinera’s Cloud Xpress has been the strongest in the web-scale data center space, Jay Gill, principal product marketing manager at Infinera, said. “They’re the ones that really drove our Cloud Xpress product requirements,” he said.
Cloud Xpress was purpose-built with the ICPs in mind. The statement from Jay Gill also confirms them as the strongest purchasers. Taking this statement with the one above implies a decent amount of penetration well underway in the December quarter, the quarter we’re about to get official news on.
Multi-tenant data center providers like Equinix are another category of customers creating demand for 100 Gig interconnect solutions.
A customer in an Equinix data center in Santa Clara, California, for example, can pay for a 100-Gig port on an Arista switch and, via Infinera, connect to an Arista switch at an Equinix data center in San Jose. The infrastructure essentially creates one virtual data center across the entire metro, Equinix’s Tarazi said.
While Equinix is familiar with performance of the two products, the latest test results are “really good news,” from both performance and distance perspectives, he said.
In addition to performance, a big benefit of Arista switches is their programmability, Tarazi added. A company like Equinix, which has a sophisticated interconnection platform it has developed in-house, can use its own Software Defined Networking technology. “That’s very significant for automation and agility,” he said.
Infinera and Arista aren’t the only vendors on the market that can provide this level of performance and programmability. Equinix also uses DCI solutions by Ciena and switches by Juniper, according to Tarazi. The data center provider uses Arista switches to connect customers to the public internet, for example, but the combination of Juniper and Ciena for private cloud connectivity, he said.
“This is a new class of technology, and those guys are some of the leaders, but [they are] not the only ones,” Tarazi said.
The other two leaders mentioned (the one with the switches and the other with the optical equipment) just reported. They each reported strongly for the closing quarter, but guided poorly for the next.
Something had to have taken aim and fired for both of them to offer lower guidance. One theory is the groundwork laid by Infinera and Arista by working together over the quarter has set the stage on the demand side for the next quarter. Again, just a theory. We have seen reports from the component suppliers that demand was strong then and will continue to be huge. So consumption for 100G does exist. Just trying to connect the dots together.
Here may be another piece to the puzzle on what may have happened since that November event, taken from just a few days ago:
On Thursday, Facebook announced that it will let anyone with an iPhone live stream video on Facebook–the feature will start out in the U.S., and roll out to people in other countries in the following weeks. This comes a month after the social network said it was testing such a feature, and shows the social network is taking the growing popularity of live-streaming very seriously–something that will surely alarm currently popular apps in the space, like Meerkat and Twitter-owned Periscope.
Thoughts from anyone?