In March 2021, Smartoptics announced that service provider POST-Luxembourg had chosen the Smartoptics open line system for upgrading its backbone network to 400G. As one of the first commercial installations in the world based on the new 400ZR standard, the implementation is a clear proof point that 400G is here for real.
So, what are the main drivers behind the migration to 400G? And what are the benefits of upgrading? Per Burman, CMO at Smartoptics shares his view:
– The most obvious reason for upgrading to 400G is the possibility to create networks with higher capacity than existing 40G and 100G solutions. This enables both service providers and enterprises to meet the continuously increasing demands for more bandwidth. But 400G networking comes with several additional benefits, many directly related to the higher level of standardization that is introduced with the technology upgrade.
Standardisation facilitates disaggregated networking
For the first time since the introduction of 10G, 400G is launched along with a new optical connectivity standard. The new standard, named 400ZR, has been defined by the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) to secure interoperability between systems from different vendors.
— At Smartoptics, we have always advocated for easy-to-use embedded solutions based on open, disaggregated DWDM technologies. As 400G is being introduced, we begin to see how larger players in the market, traditionally preaching in favor of external transponders, are also starting to open their eyes to these more flexible types of solutions, probably because the market is asking for it! The new 400ZR standard will fuel the trend of disaggregated solutions as it will make it easier to create solutions by mixing and matching network building blocks from different vendors. In this way, 400G ZR will enable more cost-efficient and hopefully less complex solutions for high-speed networking, explains Per Burman.
A new form-factor for smart coherent networking
Along with the introduction of 400G, we have also seen the launch of a new form-factor transceiver: the QSFP56-DD – DD for Double Density. The new form-factor fits directly into high-density switches and routers, making it an ideal component for creating high-capacity networks for data centre interconnect (DCI) as well as for service provider metro and access applications. Per continues:
— A coherent solution does not require dispersion compensation which means that you can skip this step in the networking solution, again offering the possibility for simpler, more cost-efficient solutions. Coherent technologies also make it easier to create colourless ROADM solutions. Splitters and combiners can also easily be added to increase the port count in a cost-efficient way.
Fortunately, the new QSFP-DD transceivers are not limited to 400G but multi-rate, supporting different modulation formats. Using the same optics, 100G, 200G, or 300G connectivity as well simplifies the handling. A typical example would be an organization using the same optics for 400G connectivity over a shorter distance as for 200G over a longer span.
Smartoptics expands the portfolio for 400G
Smartoptics are well prepared to address the need for smart, cost-efficient 400G networking solutions. Ulf Persson, Senior Network Architect at Smartoptics explains how:
— First and foremost, we have made sure that the solutions we launched to support 100G, such as the Dynamic Connectivity Platform (DCP) family of products, were designed to be fully compliant also with 400G. I am confident that we will see 100G deployments for many years to come and I believe that it is our responsibility as a supplier to make sure those investments are safeguarded for the future. Upgrading the capacity of our open line systems from 100 to 400G is as easy as unplugging the existing optics and replacing it with 400G transceivers. We are also continuously adding new components to our networking portfolio. First out is a muxponder under the name DCP-404.
The new muxponder will allow for four 100G channels to be combined over one 400G line which will pave the way for flexible, cost-efficient networking but will also be configurable for different capacity requirements.
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