The Optical Networking and Communication (OFC) Conference & Exhibition is a one-stop shop for technical presentations and market trends. Highly regarded by optical networking decision makers and engineers, OFC serves as the epicenter of optical manufacturers innovation declarations. This year did not disappoint – with significant announcements and discussions about the future of optics that could very well change the optical networking industry as a whole.
Among the trends that emerged from OFC ’17, one of the most significant was the overt promotion and growing importance of coherent technology. Notably across the industry, there seems to be a demand for pluggable transceivers for data center interconnect (DCI) applications – a technological advancement that XKL is well versed in.
As predicted, many conversations were had about modules and specifications. The big debate that came from the module discussion was the question of QSFP-DD versus OSFP. While both have their proponents, there were murmurs that it might be easier for OSFP to support coherent technology well into the future. Another debate laid in the demand for 200G. While some vendors prefer to leap from 100G straight to 400G, others believe that the 200G “stepping stone” is necessary so data center operators and applications will have ample time to catch up to the emerging technology.
Finally, one of the major trends that came out of OFC is the shift to optical network automation. Improvements to network flexibility and provisioning time are major selling points, but the value is not necessarily in the ability to easily set up and tear down wavelengths, but being able to do so in reaction to what’s actually going on in the network in real time. Leading that trend was the announcement during the conference of XKL’s innovative FlexArc solution, which emphasizes the company’s support of next generation networks by offering increased control and flexibility at Layer 1. As XKL’s Chief Systems Architect Dr. Chad Lamb puts it, “Tomorrow’s networks will require even more rapid scalability and versatility than is available today. At Layer 1, this means ramping up bandwidth as needed, when needed. By leveraging XKL’s FlexArc solution, customers have the flexibility to adjust bandwidth needs without costly personnel visits. This capability must be an innate part of the solution in order to maintain reliable and robust operation.”