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100G to 400G:  Augmenting Capacities for a Faster Tomorrow

The utilization of 100G Ethernet in data centers and Enterprise networks has been witnessing a slow but perceptible ramp-up since 2010.

The utilization of 100G Ethernet in data centers and enterprise networks has been witnessing a slow but perceptible ramp-up since 2010, one that has quietly triggered an initially trotting and now galloping demand for 400G networks globally. This, in turn, has catalyzed the development and funding of New-Gen 400G components. Companies that managed to develop effective 100G optical modules at the right time are today beginning to reap the rewards, and are sharply focusing on creating impactful and more cost-effective networks, leading to a robust, higher XXX-G portfolio.

100G Ethernet first saw signs of tentative adoption around Years 2010-11. Gradually then, adoption grew, albeit slowly, largely due to high-cost issues and constrained demand pulls. It was the introduction of more efficient optical transceiver modules over the last few years—such as QSFP28—that significantly lowered the cost of 100G ports, seeing Enterprises worldwide more readily embracing Cloud services. This, in turn, saw demand from data center operators moving into a rapid upshift.

The last two years have proven to be the game-changer—100G Ethernet is now coming of age and optical module vendors have of late been hard-pressed to service runaway order books. Meeting this increasing demand and lowering costs of implementation have been the challenges for 100G module and component suppliers, for years. But clearly, this is a marketplace to be in for them, and if input costs can be honed down, the demand draft can be grown significantly. And where can cost reductions come from? Through incisive module assembly, silicon photonics, reducing the number of lanes/wavelengths, and so on…

Demand Drivers

What is driving this runaway demand for fatter pipes, and more and more bandwidth? Well, today’s network trends are mind-boggling. Independent reports suggest that YouTube users are spending 120,000 years-worth of watch time, every single day. Facebook now boasts over 2.2 billion active users, with most of the new users coming not from the ‘Net-Developed World’, but from Asia and the ‘New Internet World’. And look at this statistic—one in every five videos is now a live broadcast. That means users are no more consumers of content; they are producing and streaming humongous amounts of content (read data) over the Web. These massive amounts of content mean 1000s of terabits upon many more 1000s of terabits of data, every hour. Data Center Operators, Cloud and Content Providers, to name a few, are scrambling to meet this demand and pumping in billions to service this never-before appetite for connectivity and bandwidth.

Today, industry is grappling with a huge demand for 100G in data centers worldwide. We can safely expect the 100G optical module market to become more and more competitive through the next two years, with module costs going down with growing production and usage volumes. The only catch here is that developing Next-Gen modules will require significant time and substantial investments, and that will see industry bigwigs collaborate more, leading to further consolidation in the industry.

Data centers and Cloud service providers worldwide are testing and moving on to the 400G platform, and Global Cloud Xchange is no exception. CEO RCOM & Chairman, GCX, Bill Barney, touched upon the Company’s initiatives on this front: “There is testing and development of 400G technology going on as we speak, which will increase the capacity of all of our cables by another 125% to 150%. We see this happening in two or three years from now.”

Over the past two years, GCX has expanded the capabilities of its Global Network to strengthen its market position through the extension of the subsea cable system (100G technology) with direct India-Singapore access, interconnecting established data centers and its India domestic fiber network seamlessly into GCX’s global infrastructure. This further enables GCX to span the globe with its own subsea cable systems with full operational control. “We are also in the process of expanding ‘Glass Connectivity’ from India to Silicon Valley to further enhance our capabilities in the world’s fastest-growing economy. There is also ongoing testing and development of 400G technology, which will increase the capacity of all of our cables,” Barney added.