The Data Center Interconnect (DCI) segment can be a difficult one to analyze across equipment vendors. Over-the-Top (OTT) providers are not always eager to advertise the architectures of their newest data centers, describe their DCI strategy or their vendor choice(s). Telcos similarly are either building new data center interconnects or adopting new data center technologies. Calendar year 2016 provided some notable changes to the DCI sector and probably had one of the largest technology shifts. Here’s what you need to look for heading into OFC’17.

Solution Scale

Speed matters. That has been the case in DCI for some time now. For DCI, high density optics across a range of optical reach variants is critical to optimize the DWDM network design. Pluggable optics and stackable systems are the DCI system architectures of choice for scale and flexibility and they are correspondingly two of the core tenets of the Cisco NCS 1000 product family. The NCS 1000 delivers on data center form factor and environmental performance. Data center operators are no longer leveraging Telco form factor products in their networking environments with the plethora of these new pizza box form factors that are now available.

Operational Efficiency

Have you seen the ACG report on Multi-layer SDN? I’m not pointing this out because Cisco is leading the field, but rather because data centers thrive on these types of demand shifts. Shifts in traffic demand can really wreak havoc on a the IP and optical network if you don’t have the multi-layer tools to cope. Service assurance and continued network re-optimizations are just as important as the provisioning or multi-vendor orchestration requirements of data center operations.

Network Integration

The physical networking portion of DCI is built on peering routers and optical transport. Until now these networking elements have run on disparate operating systems. Legacy network management systems and orchestration solutions have delivered the translations necessary to operate in a multi-vendor and multi-OS environment. What if the routers and the optical transport devices just ran the same OS? What if they used the same YANG data models to communicate their service constructs? Now consider the physical, virtual and hybrid networking opportunities in a data center. The importance of network integration and streamlining network telemetry continue to grow. Cisco’s NCS 1000 series and NCS 5000 series run on IOS XR, the same operating system Cisco high-end routers use.

Most optical networking vendors don’t have a real routing portfolio, only some Layer 2 devices or aggregation cards. Some optical networking vendors don’t even have a DCI platform, choosing instead to focus on long haul. Once you add in some of the highly publicized layoffs and the merger activity in the optical market you see that we are at a crossroads.

Who will you trust your future data center interconnect to? Choose wisely and do your homework at OFC this year.

At Cisco we’re working to simplify, automate, and virtualize the network. Come check us out at OFC Booth #1501, ask to see the DCI demo and see our vision in action.

Look for more announcements here!


Greg Nehib

Senior Marketing Manager

SP Infrastructure