UX opens the door for 400GbE innovation

UX opens the door for 400GbE innovation

12 August 2020 | Ben Baker

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Ben Baker

Blog Author | senior director of service provider product marketing, Juniper Networks

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Ben Baker, senior director of service provider product marketing at Juniper Networks, takes on the challenge of 400GbE innovation

In some respects, the Covid-19 outbreak and associated lockdown has proved to be a dress rehearsal for the future. Maybe, it has even proved itself to be a catalyst for bringing about future network conditions sooner than expected.

Either way, what we’ve seen in recent months is a renewed business case for increased network capacity and the amount of demand we need to get ready for future applications. And although we will always need faster speeds to keep up with advancing technology, what the industry must focus on is user experience and build its solutions from there.

Take 400 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity for instance. We’ve seen the theory for a while, but now more than ever, we’re seeing the potential for its use in service provider and cloud provider networks to deliver services efficiently to businesses and homes across the country. Having suddenly shifted from the office to the home and made that our workplace over the past few months, workers have placed an increased reliance on video calling and streaming. Both of these are applications where 400GbE can shine, albeit, behind the scenes in data centres and networks.

Essentially, 400GbE is an upgrade of the data centre and wide-area network (WAN) transport links to four times the capacity of the fattest pipes used by businesses today. It enables organisations to do things that weren’t possible before and do so more efficiently than ever. That’s because they can deliver 400GbE with just 2.5 times the power consumption of 100GbE. As a result, there will be less need for users to just take what they’re given and instead have a better experience through higher quality digital services.

Capacity without compromise

During the coronavirus lockdown, the major streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube opted to restrict the bandwidth of their videos to reduce the strain on internet services. With more people using bandwidth-heavy services such as video streaming during the pandemic, there were concerns that a broader problem around internet user experience would occur.

Additionally, the working from home phenomenon has taken hold in a major way. The biggest concerns aren’t just the sheer volume of video calls; it’s the increased video calls in combination with power users who all want reliability. Think about, for example, video games studios sharing large assets back and forth when working remotely and developing from home. Working from home requires rock-solid connectivity and capacity – benefits that can be granted by 400GbE.

The need for this high level of capacity will only increase, particularly among the hyperscalers such as Google. Their data centre network traffic doubles every 12-15 months. Trying to meet such demands using 100GbE is becoming increasingly difficult. And with 400GbE becoming more cost effective as economies of scale come into play, it will become a more attractive option. Add emerging 5G networks and new applications - such as the growing use of AI and machine learning in cloud data centres - and the need for substantial increases in capacity and speeds becomes clear to see.

Getting ready

With advances in technology development, standards and cost effectiveness, it’s certainly time to think about how 400GbE could boost profitability in your business in the future. While we wait for it to become economically feasible to deploy 400GbE at scale there are a few considerations to think about now.

For example, now is the time to think about open standards-based technologies with multi-vendor interoperability. When you aren’t locked into a particular platform, it can deliver savings on capital expenditures and operational flexibility in the long run.

Another step you can take to being 400GbE ready is paying attention to the networking equipment you’re currently installing. If you’re already carrying out network refresh cycles, you will be positioning yourself really well for the future if you look for fixed configuration or modular solutions that support QSFP56-DD interfaces for 400GbE services. That way, you can easily switch to 400GbE when the time is right by swapping out one pluggable and replacing it with another.

Securing tomorrow

Security is another major concern, especially if the data that leaves your data centre must be encrypted. It’s important, therefore, to acquire 400GbE solutions that can provide MACSec encryption inline, so you don’t have to use separate components that increase power consumption and costs while sapping performance.

The demand for 400GbE is here and will only grow in the coming months. Although businesses are starting to return to offices post Covid-19 lockdown, a broader trend of home work has started and flexibility is the new watchword. User experience shouldn’t be compromised, so the boost in capacity will be welcomed.

The rollout of 400GbE is still in its infancy as there are still tweaks to be made on various fronts for it to make sense for the majority of network operators. The preparation phase starts right now because the likelihood is that costs will come down over the next year and make 400GbE a compelling addition to the network infrastructure.