It is understood that, in order to meet the needs of operators backbone network expansion, 400G will be the backbone network upgrade and new direction. At present, 400G standards organizations IEEE, ITU-T and OIF three international standards organization and China's CCSA in the 400G standard formulation work has made periodic progress. To this end, OFweek optical communications network editor exclusive interview with EXFO transmission product line manager Karim Fahim, together with 400G to explore the challenges and opportunities, the following is an interview transcript:
In terms of network transmission, 100G is evolving towards 400G. What is the driving force behind it? How about the deployment of 400G in foreign countries?
Karim Fahim: most people think that 100G has just appeared. Why should 400G be introduced?. In fact, 7 years ago and 8 years ago, 100G technology emerged. At present, the demand for 400G mainly comes from the demand of the network for more frequency bands. With the rapid development of the network, many applications require more and more band support. For example, the transition from 4G to 5G requires more bands, and the rapid development of the global data center also requires more bands.
To this end, more and more large scale system vendors and equipment vendors have begun to develop 400G solutions, and many data center companies also hope to change through these solutions. At the same time, large operators are also actively planning evolution to 400G.
What do you think about the development trend of 400G? What are the problems in the deployment process of 400G? What's the latest progress at home and abroad?
Karim Fahim: I think the biggest challenge in developing 400G is the emergence of new technologies. In the Internet, there are 400G and new Flex technologies that haven't appeared before. The same is true for OTN, although we have a new definition of the structure and usage of OTUCn, Flex OTN is still a new technology. In addition, there are optical modules that need to be transmitted by 400G, and new technologies and new products are also being introduced. Therefore, for the development of 400G, a large number of new technologies need to be rapidly integrated and made into systems that can be deployed to provide the best capacity for users in the network.
In the process of deploying 400G, it will also face many problems, the first is to reduce the cost of new technology. For operators, the biggest challenge for deploying new technologies is the cost of upgrading the deployed network. Completely abandon the old network, the adoption of a new network is certainly unrealistic, network evolution needs smooth transition. The deployed network must be reliable, efficient and cost effective. Therefore, the optical modules for 400G applications must be reliable and low cost.
At present, China's several major equipment manufacturers in the 400G system development is in a leading position, many operators also want to transfer the network as soon as possible to 400G, which is also a consensus of global development. Among them, North America and China are of great interest in 400G, and many large enterprises and big manufacturers around the world are planning the deployment of future 400G. EXFO has maintained close relationships with these global customers.
With the rapid development of data center, what opportunities and challenges are brought to optical communication enterprises? How does EXFO help enterprises cope with challenges?
Karim Fahim: as I mentioned earlier, one of the driving forces behind the growth of network value and demand is data centers, which are using a lot of fiber and bandwidth. For EXFO, there are many opportunities for testing and developing solutions for fiber and related protocols. With the data center playing a more and more important role in the definition of network technology. The data center will become one of the most important drivers of 400G, which provides new opportunities for EXFO and other companies to provide optical solutions.
For EXFO, our solutions can help customers build more reliable, efficient and cost effective networks. For example, in the 100G deployment, both the transmission network and data center customers are faced with the challenge of transceiver anomalies. To this end, we launched a very simple test application - iOptics solution, enabling customers to quickly assess whether the transceiver works properly or not. There will be more time and more efficient troubleshooting problems, thus significantly reducing the downtime of network maintenance and the probability of failure. In addition, we still have many successful cases in improving the stability and reliability of customer network operation. At the same time, we also extend these successful experiences to the 400G field.
The upcoming 5G and the Internet of things era will bring explosive growth of data and connections. How does EXFO help companies discover the value behind data?
Karim Fahim: for this problem, I think we should look at it in two ways. One is 5G and the Internet of things will bring more requirements to the data network, it also means more bandwidth, which will accelerate the development and deployment of 400G; on the other hand, EXFO is also a huge amount of data management and analysis to develop additional solutions, and help users understand these huge amounts of data and extracting important information. In order to further improve the network performance.
What products does EXFO show in this exhibition? What are the characteristics and performance advantages?
Karim Fahim: in this light Expo, we show the main product is a new 400G network test program. Based on the new FTBx-88400NGE mode, with complete 400G testing capabilities, including 400G Ethernet, Flex E, OTUCn, Flex OTN and CFP8, etc.. The program also has iOptics test applications for testing new 400G transceivers. Therefore, it is a complete solution to help system vendors and equipment manufacturers develop 400G solutions. At the same time, data centers and transport networks implement seamless transitions of 400G through these solutions. And the launch of the 400G network test program is also the first exhibition at the light expo.What is the plan for EXFO in the future? What's the focus?
Karim Fahim: technology never stops making progress. There are always new technologies. For example, about 7-8 years ago, EXFO was one of the first companies to launch 100G testing solutions to the market. We have also introduced 400G testing solutions in the early stages of 400G deployment. We will continue to develop and add more features and functions to our testing equipment. Our goal is to provide the best tools for customers: for equipment manufacturers, that is to shorten the product development cycle and accelerate the listing time; for data centers and operators customers, is to ensure its smooth operation and the network as reliable as possible. This is also the driving force that we continue to provide the best innovation and solutions for the market.
At present, we focus mainly on 400G. Because the technology is still in its initial stage, it needs a lot of development work, which is the focus of our attention in the future.
Because of the rapid growth of the industry, it seems that we talked about 100G yesterday, and we started talking about 400G today. I'm looking forward to the innovations and advantages that 400G will bring, and we will continue to work on this basis.