Looking ahead to the next stage of network infrastructure, Ciena has lifted the curtain on its next-generation technology optical platform. They have announced WaveLogic Ai, a fully programmable coherent modem which will underly the company's upcoming upgrades to its product portfolio.
The new platform offers a flexible mix of 100G to 400G wavelengths, trading off between capacity and reach depending on the application. For metro and data center interconnection applications that don't need as much reach, it offers huge 400G pipes. On the other end, the platform offers 100G for transoceanic links of up to 14,000km. In between, there is 200G and 300G for longhaul and regional links, and actually granularity at 50G increments.
The hardware will be largely the same, with the differences coming in the software programming, meaning that the gear itself can be more uniform across a wide variety of network infrastructure. Ciena expects WaveLogic Ai to be available in the second quarter of 2017.
The last big wave of vendor upgrades was tightly focused on the hardware and other technologies necessary to support 100G. The upcoming one seems to be much less focused on a particular speed or physical technology, and a lot more focused on flexibility and software control. We're reaching the limits of the size of the pipes, so the key to scaling is increasingly about managing them more smoothly and efficiently.