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On September 21, 2016, Infinera announced the Cloud Xpress 2 (CX2), a purpose-built metro data center interconnect (DCI) solution that utilizes Infinera's fourth-generation Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC). The metro DCI market is highly competitive and Infinera has re-upped with a compelling solution designed from the outset for the web-scale metro DCI market.

Infinera steps up with a purpose-built metro DCI solution

Internet content providers (ICPs) have built up a portfolio of web-scale data center properties to house their social media, search, and cloud service businesses. Due to real estate practicalities and organic growth over time, their data center properties are distributed over their major metros of operation. The ICPs need their data centers interconnected, at multiterabit scale.

In addition, the ICPs have pointedly noted that they are not telcos and are not interested in networking equipment designed for telcos and their operational practices. They require DCI equipment designed for their specific needs: compact and stackable form factors, spectral efficiency, competitive price-per-bit performance, low power consumption per bit, streaming telemetry data, simplified provisioning, encryption, unamplified reach, and simplified equipment configurations.

The CX2 addresses ICPs' metro DCI requirements spot on. It delivers 1.2Tbps in a 1RU form factor, and its 1.2Tbps super-channel consumes less spectrum than earlier solutions, and so provides a spectral efficiency gain, enabling 27.6Tbps per fiber pair. The CX2 is also power efficient at 0.57 watts/Gbps, and features a Telemetry Collection Agent to support ICPs' big data analysis of network performance. For provisioning, the CX2 utilizes the intelligence of coherent processing for automatic dispersion management, eliminating a manual configuration step. The CX2 has both Layer-1 and -2 encryption. With 130km unamplified reach, the CX2 will cover much of the metro DCI market without requiring amplification. The 200G channels are multiplexed within the PIC, minimizing the need for external equipment.

Market timing is everything, and Infinera has timed the arrival of the CX2 well. ICPs are entering a new "inside the data center" epoch that focuses on major upgrades to server port speeds and server densities per rack. As a higher-power, metro DCI solution, the CX2 fits well with ICPs' plans as they increase horsepower inside the data center.


Further reading

Market Share Spreadsheet: 2Q16 Data Center Interconnect (DCI), TE0006-001284 (September 2016)

OFC 2016: More Innovation and Volume for Data Center Intra- and Interconnect, TE0017-000066 (April 2016)

100G Transceiver Opportunities in Intra–Data Center Interconnect, TE0017-000062 (January 2016)


Ian Redpath, Principal Analyst, Intelligent Networks

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