Listening to the drumbeats of 100G


Since we received the news of our ARRA funds for our Advanced Network Initiative (ANI), we have been working steadily towards the ambitious goal of deploying 100G technology to stimulate networking advancement in high-speed interfaces. In the course of pushing the ANI agenda over the last year we have met with many carriers and vendors. Although I cannot share my personal conversations with these vendors–the thought of flocks of lawyers descending upon me ensures reticence–I have avidly been tracking their public announcements.

Just today Cisco announced the acquisition of Core Optics, a coherent optics board vendor. I had the good fortune to see their 40G system working at OFC this year and I am sure they are working hard on getting their 100G system up and running. Google typically has been quiet about the innovations in their network to keep up with data center innovations. But they have been uncharacteristically beating the 100G drum in public – which meshes very well with our needs. If you look at ESnet, the traffic transiting our network is growing at an alarming rate of 80% year over year.



At the Packet-Optical Transport Evolution conference (http://www.lightreading.com/live/event_information.asp?event_id=29209) Bikash Koley, Senior Network Architect, Google points at machine to machine traffic (like video sensors) as the motivators for needing such bandwidth and cites hybrid networking or packet-optical integration as solving the problems of the day.

If I can quote their article in Lightreading (http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=192230&):

“Regardless of how the network looks, Google is dead set on one thing: it wants label-switched routing and DWDM capabilities to be combined into one box. It doesn’t matter if that’s a label-switched router (LSR) with DWDM added, or a DWDM box with Layer 3 knowledge added,”Koley said. (He also stressed that the LSR doesn’t have to be a full-blown router.)

Now that is one statement we are in agreement with Bikash Koley and Google. Our own experience developing OSCARS (On-demand Secure Circuits and Advanced Reservation System – www.es.net/oscars) and the hybrid networking architecture to deal with large science flows since 2004 has led us down the path of on-demand traffic-engineered paths. With MPLS being the only choice at that time (discussing the merits of new IEEE mac-in-mac protocols will require a separate blog), we created the OSCARS open-source software to dynamically configure LSPs through our hybrid packet-optical network. That worked very well for us, though it was clear that we did not really need the service/edge capabilities built into the router. So if there is a way to make the core simpler, cheaper and more energy-efficient – sign me up for that and we will run OSCARS over it to steer those circuits to where our customers want it.

We at ESnet continue to march ahead towards the 100G-prototype network. I look forward to your comments on 40G, 100G, the new Ethernet standards and the way to higher rates (400GE, 1TBE.)

Inder Monga, Network Architect

Email me at: Imonga@es.net