Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Windstream carries 1 Tbps wavelength over 1,100km with Cisco/Acacia

Windstream Wholesale) transmitted a 1 terabit per second (Tbps) wavelength over a 1,100-kilometer link across multiple routes using the Cisco NCS 1014 C-Band 2.4T WDM Transponder Line Card with Acacia’s Coherent Interconnect Module (CIM) 8, the industry’s first 1.2Tbps faceplate pluggable coherent solution. The transmission was carried over a third-party line system (150Ghz Channel).

The successful trial deployments achieved the following key wavelength transmissions across Windstream ICON routes:

  • Successful roundtrip transport of 1Tbps over 1,100 km from Miami to Jacksonville, Florida
  • Successful transport of 800G over 1,387 km of mixed fiber from Miami through Tallahassee, Florida, to Atlanta, Georgia
  • Successful roundtrip transport of 600G over 2,774 km from Miami, Florida, to Atlanta, Georgia

“This tremendous achievement further proves our commitment to technology leadership and networking expertise,” said John Nishimoto, Windstream Wholesale senior vice president of products, marketing, and strategy. "We developed ICON to provide multi-vendor flexibility and seamlessly integrate the newest optimized technology into our disaggregated network. Achievements like this reinforce our 800G wave strategy and offer improved design and network planning options among our 100G and 400G solutions."

The trial results emphasize that disaggregated networking can be implemented successfully on production networks and demonstrate that interoperability between a vendor's transponder and a third-party line system is achievable. This accomplishment is an industry-first and is another of many successful milestones resulting from the long-term collaboration between Windstream Wholesale, Cisco, and Acacia.

  • March 2023 – Successfully deployed a 1Tbps wave over 541 km between Dallas and Tulsa in a live network trial across Windstream's ICON. The circuit was looped to establish an 800G route over a live network measuring 1,082 km, setting a leading benchmark using digital coherent optics technology.
  • April 2022 – Achieved successful establishment of 400G links in a production environment over a 1,027 km route, pioneering the interoperability of QSFP-DD form factor ZR+ pluggable modules from Cisco and II-VI Incorporated, now Coherent Corp. 
  • February 2021 – Established a 400G ZR+ live network record, successfully deploying a 400G per second single-wavelength transmission over 1,027 km between Phoenix and Los Angeles using ZR+ digital coherent optics technology.

“Collaborating with industry leaders like Windstream, Cisco continues to demonstrate results leveraging our coherent technology innovation from Acacia and the Cisco NCS 1014 platform,” said Bill Gartner, senior vice president of Optical Systems and Optics, Cisco. “This 1Tbps over 1,100km exemplifies how Cisco is providing our customers with disaggregated networking solutions to deliver the capacity and speed for the future of networking.”


Dell'Oro: InfiniBand vs. Ethernet—the Race is On!

Spending on switches deployed in AI back-end networks is forecast to expand the Data Center Switch Market by 50 percent, according to a new AI Networks for AI Workloads report by Dell'Oro Group.

Current data center switch market spending is on front-end networks used primarily to connect general-purpose servers. AI workloads will require a new back-end infrastructure buildout. The competition intensifies between InfiniBand and Ethernet as manufacturers vie for market dominance in AI back-end networks. While InfiniBand is expected to maintain its lead, Ethernet is forecast to make substantial gains, such as 20 revenue-share points by 2027.

"Generative AI applications usher in a new era in the age of AI, standing out for the sheer number of parameters that they have to deal with," said Sameh Boujelbene, Vice President at Dell'Oro Group. "Several large AI applications currently handle trillions of parameters, with this count increasing tenfold annually. This rapid growth necessitates the deployment of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of accelerated nodes. Connecting these accelerated nodes in large clusters requires a data center-scale fabric, known as the AI back-end network, which differs from the traditional front-end network used mostly to connect general-purpose servers.

"This predicament poses the pivotal question: what is the most suitable fabric that can scale to hundreds of thousands and potentially millions of accelerated nodes while ensuring the lowest Job Completion Time (JCT)? One could argue that Ethernet is one speed generation ahead of InfiniBand. Network speed, however, is not the only factor. Congestion control and adaptive routing mechanisms are also important. We analyzed AI back-end network build-outs by the major Cloud Service Providers (such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Meta, Alibaba, Tencent, ByteDance, Baidu, and others) as well as various considerations driving their choices of the back-end fabric to develop our forecast," continued Boujelbene.

Additional highlights from the AI Networks for AI Workloads Report:

  • AI networks will accelerate the transition to higher speeds. For example, 800 Gbps is expected to comprise the majority of the ports in AI back-end networks by 2025, within just two years of the latest 800 Gbps product introduction.
  • While most of the market demand will come from Tier 1 Cloud Service Providers, Tier 2/3 and large enterprises are forecast to be significant, approaching $10 B over the next five years. The latter group will favor Ethernet.



Microsoft inks 10-year AI + Cloud deal with Vodafone

Microsoft announced a 10-year strategic pact under which Vodafone will invest $1.5 billion in its cloud and customer-focused AI services. Additionally, Microsoft will use Vodafone’s fixed and mobile connectivity services.

Microsoft also intends to invest in Vodafone’s managed IoT connectivity platform, which will become a separate, standalone business by April 2024. The new company will attract new partners and customers, driving growth in applications and expanding the platform to connect more devices, vehicles and machines.

The companies said their pact will result in digital services, based on the latest generative AI technology, that provide a highly personalized and differentiated customer experience across multiple channels. There are 5 areas of collaboration:

  • Generative AI: Vodafone will enhance customer experiences using Microsoft Azure OpenAI for real-time, personalized interactions, including through its digital assistant TOBi. Employees will also use Microsoft Copilot to increase productivity and digital efficiency.
  • Scaling IoT: Microsoft will invest in Vodafone's global IoT platform, connecting 175 million devices, and integrate it into the Azure ecosystem, opening it to developers and third-parties through open APIs.
  • Africa Digital Acceleration: Microsoft and Vodafone will expand M-Pesa on Azure, launching new applications and a program to benefit 100 million consumers and 1 million SMEs in Africa. This includes digital literacy, skilling, youth programs, and digital services for SMEs, enhancing financial services innovation.
  • Enterprise Growth: Vodafone commits to distributing Microsoft services, including Azure and Microsoft Teams Phone Mobile, aiding Europe’s businesses with low-cost cloud-based services and supporting 24 million SMEs with a managed growth platform.
  • Cloud Transformation: Vodafone will modernize its data centers using Microsoft Azure, enhancing customer responsiveness, reducing operational costs and energy use, and aligning with its sustainable business strategy by replacing physical data centers with virtual ones in Europe.

Margherita Della Valle, Vodafone Group chief executive, said: “Today, Vodafone has made a bold commitment to the digital future of Europe and Africa. This unique strategic partnership with Microsoft will accelerate the digital transformation of our business customers, particularly small and medium-sized companies, and step up the quality of customer experience for consumers.”

“This new generation of AI will unlock massive new opportunities for every organization and every industry around the world,” said Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “We are delighted that together with Vodafone we will apply the latest cloud and AI technology to enhance the customer experience of hundreds of millions of people and businesses across Africa and Europe, build new products and services, and accelerate the company’s transition to the cloud.”

Bleu, the “Cloud de Confiance” from Capgemini and Orange

Bleu, the joint venture cloud company created by Capgemini and Orange, is now engaging with select French public and private organizations. This follows validation from the European Commission in 2023 on the need to establish a "cloud de confiance" for security reasons. The first services are now anticipated to begin from the end of 2024 based on Microsoft technology. 

Capgemini and Orange launched Bleu in a strategic partnership with Microsoft, with the aim of meeting the specific cloud needs of the French State, public agencies, hospitals, regional authorities, Vital Importance Operators (OIVs) and Essential Service Operators (OSEs), enabling them to use Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Azure services. 

In order to meet with strong demand from an array of French organizations, the coming months will be used to prepare their migration, carry out tests and pilots with clients, and to ensure their successful onboarding on Bleu. The Bleu cloud platform will be launched on a set of geographically distributed data centers across France, meeting the necessary high standards of resilience and availability.

"I'm proud of the work done by the Capgemini, Orange and Microsoft teams to realize our shared ambition of being able to offer, through Bleu, a solution that will enable clients to leverage the full power of Microsoft cloud services in a ‘cloud de confiance’," comments Aiman Ezzat, Chief Executive Officer of the Capgemini Group. “Bleu brings a unique combination of security and service benefits, including the widest range of technological innovations, enabling French organizations to accelerate their digital ambitions through the coming years.”

Christel Heydemann, CEO of Orange, commented: “Together with our partner Capgemini, we are very pleased to announce today the launch of activities of our joint venture Bleu. As a leading player in the digital transformation of businesses in France, Orange is aware of the specific challenges in terms of data protection and sovereignty for critical infrastructure operators and public institutions. We are confident that Bleu will meet these needs by providing a cloud solution based on Microsoft services while being fully compliant with the standards set by French authorities in its “trusted cloud” doctrine. Bleu is now fully operational and is actively working with its future customers to prepare for their migration to the platform."


Cato Networks Un-Predictions: 3 Cyber Events that won't happen in 2024

Etay Maor, Senior Director of Security Strategy from Cato Networks, offers three un-predictions for 2024:

- AI Threats: While AI is increasingly used by cybercriminals for tasks like creating phishing emails, the idea of a catastrophic AI-based attack is unrealistic. Instead, expect to see more AI usage in smaller, more specific tasks within cyber attacks.

- Cyber War: Despite ongoing global conflicts, a full-scale cyber war is unlikely. Cyber tools are used in conjunction with traditional military tactics, not as standalone strategies. However, the alignment of threat actors with different nation states is a trend to watch.

- Breach Time Detection: Contrary to some reports, the average time to detect a breach is not decreasing. This is often due to outdated security solutions. Expect to see a rise in the adoption of Secure Access Service Edge, a cloud-based approach to networking and security, for faster and more effective threat detection.


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Spectra7 cites production order for chips for 800G Active Copper Cables

Spectra7 Microsystems announced its first order for production GC1122 chips supporting Active Copper Cables (ACCs) operating at speeds up to 800 Gbps and 1.6 Tbps. The order has come from a major China cable supplier who serves both the North America and China data center markets.

"We are excited to receive the first order for our production GC1122 chips," said Spectra7 CEO Raouf Halim. "Cables using these chips will be used in qualification at major Hyperscalers in both North America and China, and continues our progress with hyperscale data center customers deploying the most advanced implementations, such as artificial intelligence. Hyperscalers are increasingly sensitive to the high power requirements for other cabling options, which can exceed the power required by the switch itself. Spectra7's ACC cables provide a unique solution to this challenge and reduce both the capital cost and operating cost of a hyperscale data center."

"We expect these qualification activities to be complete in Q2 in order to support significant deployments in the second half of 2024 at several Hyperscalers," said Mr. Halim. "We also believe the ACC connectivity market opportunity is estimated to reach $1 billion by 20271."

Spectra7 said its analog based GaugeChanger GC1122 chips are used in Active Copper Cables (ACCs) and offer significant cost, size and energy consumption savings vs. competing Active Electrical Cables (AECs) and Active Optical Cables (AOCs) that use Digital Signal Processing (DSP) technologies.