Sunday, November 30, 2014

Data Center Optics - TIA Data Center Workshop and 7x24 Exchange Delaware Valley Chapter Meeting

 By Lisa Huff

I just finished a quick trip to Arlington, VA and Philadelphia, PA to participate in two events:
TIA Data Center Workshop and 7x24 Exchange Delaware Valley Chapter Meeting. Both had excellent discussions about the role of optics in the data center.

The panel I moderated at the TIA Workshop had representatives from Microsoft, Google, Dell and Sumitomo. The discussion brought home to me the fact that there is a large gap between the needs of the small, medium and even large enterprise data center and the needs of Internet Data Centers. The chart below, that was provided by Dell, tries to summarize the point.

Here in 2014, we still have many enterprise data centers that run 1G servers with uplinks of 10G. At the same time, Microsoft is moving from a combination of 10G and 40G servers with uplinks of 40G and 100G, to pushing for 25G servers to connect to one 100G top-of-rack (ToR) switch-port (a breakout cable). And, Microsoft is also currently working on 400G and above for the rest of its data center network. Clearly a vast difference in Ethernet application.

The diversity of data center needs will continue to broaden over the next five to ten years so the IEEE is trying to address this in its Ethernet standards development. Data rates like 2.5G, 5G, 25G and 400G are now being considered in order to address both ends of the market "spectrum." Pun intended.

At the 7x24 Exchange Delaware Valley meeting, I discussed this trend and more from our recent study on data center optics. Here is a link to a copy of the presentation.

More to come later on trends in data center optics.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Review of Data Centre World London 2013

By Lisa Huff

I haven’t attended an AFCOM Data Center World Conference in almost five years because when I did, my impression was that the exhibits were not well attended by would-be clients of the company I was working for at the time. In fact, that year, we saw only two potential customers in our booth. People that have attended it recently have told me much of the same. They received less than a handful of good prospects to target.

Fast forward to 2013 when I’m temporarily living in the UK and have an opportunity to attend Data Centre World in London. I was pleasantly surprised to find, in my opinion, a much better event – and it was free for qualified attendees! Perhaps that was the difference. I found the conference program to be comparable to AFCOM’s and the exhibit floor to  be much more crowded. The other refreshing thing was that while software defined networks (SDN) were mentioned, they were not the overwhelming theme. The program stuck to its intended subject matter, the data center market, its networks, facilities, clouds and hardware.

Some of my observations from attended presentations and visits to some of the booths:

  • Data center space demand throughout the world is expected to level off within the next five years due to server virtualization. SSE Telecoms showed this chart to illustrate this:

               It was reiterated by CBRE in its presentation – a snapshot is below.

    • More than 75% of network traffic stays within the data center. Thus the trend to higher data rates and flattening of the data center network.
    • The vertical market customer drives data center needs. In other words, if you’re a healthcare organization, your data center may look much different from a state/local government data center.
    •  “Shadow IT” is driving change in local area networks (LAN) and data centers. Bring your own device (BYOD) forces company networks to be more open to the employees using them, but poses possible security issues for the IT department.
    • Co-location is slowly becoming the norm for even smaller businesses due to the expenses associated with maintaining ownership of the data center.
    • Many connectivity vendors were there and they seemed to be getting healthy traffic in their booths. Some that I visited were 3MBrand-RexCommScope,CorningDraka/Prysmium GroupFujikuraHellermannTytonLynx Data Cabling,MethodeOrtronics and Telegรคrtner. All were showing either copper and fiber solutions (or both) for the data center.

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

    Colocation Data Centers Structured Cabling Trends

    As companies look to embrace cloud computing or backup their existing data centers, many are evaluating colocation as an option.  With this increased demand, colocation data centers are popping up all over the world and becoming a larger part of the overall data center market.  In 2013, the colocation sector is expected to account for about 25-percent of the structured-cabling data center market. During the work to develop the structured cabling forecast for the soon to be released Bishop & Associates report, "Structured Cabling Technology and Market Assessment," we had the chance to talk to project managers that are responsible for implementing 10,000 - 20,000 sqft build-outs in colocation facilities. It was clear to us that a few key trends have emerged:
    • Whenever possible contractors recommend the use of pre-terminated copper and fiber cabling.  The benefits of utilizing these components include cost reduction, on-time delivery and the project is easier to manage.
    • Although they are installing MPO cassettes on some jobs the cost premium often scares customers away.
    • More OM3 fiber is being installed than OM4.  The up-sell to OM4 is difficult since OM3 covers the distances that are typically seen in these facilities (300m at 10G).
    • A majority of the copper cabling is being installed is Category 6. 

    A typical colocation lease averages about eight years.  Since the clients don't know what their requirements will be in this timeframe, they are less likely to make decisions that "future-proof" the installation for reuse with upgraded active equipment.  Tight budgets further preclude the addition of higher performing cabling products.  They would prefer to re-cable in the future than to pay for it now.  Since many of these installations are based on Top-of-Rack (ToR) architecture, re-cabling is viewed as a much simpler thing to do than to install new equipment when the cabinets are stuffed full of cabling. In view of this, we project that Category 6A and Category 7 cabling will only see very slow growth and that OM3 will be the mainstay over the next few years.

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Telecom Exchange

    By Lisa Huff

    I recently attended an event in New York City – Telecom Exchange. The format was originally developed by Hunter Newby and Rory Cutaia when they were at Telx. This year it was hosted by Jaymie Scotto & Associates (JSA). Unlike most trade shows, this affair puts large and small companies on equal footing. In order to provide a “network-neutral” environment, JSA arranged the exhibit tables in alphabetical order and they were the same size with the same-sized branding. No giveaways were allowed at the tables. To be frank, to me it was a refreshing change. Instead of spotlighting the next new thing, the event forced you to focus on networking with industry players and real business opportunities.

    Some of my thoughts on the experience:

    Containerized/modularized data centers:  One prominent executive from a data center connectivity supplier said to me:  “Brick and mortar data centers are dead.” We only had a short time to expand on this comment, but what I think he meant was that data center operators will need to move to more modular solutions in order to lower their PUE. According to him, if you move all your high-density applications to a containerized solution, your PUE can be as low as 1.1, whereas, any traditional building would be hard to get below a PUE of 1.5. His premise is that companies will need to lower their total cost of ownership of their data center and therefore will move to these solutions or be out of business. He hasn’t convinced me yet, but I intend to do some more research on the subject.

    Allied Fiber (AF) and Dupont Fabros Technology (DFT):  Allied Fiber is known for connecting data centers nationwide, but has never connected the “last mile” into the facility. That has now changed. AF and Dupont Fabros have struck a deal for AF to connect into DFT’s Piscataway, New Jersey facility with a straight path to Chicago, bypassing Manhattan. The agreement gives AF access to DFTs underground fiber ducting and DFT access to AFs direct fiber link to Chicago, lowering latency for both providers.

    EtherCloud: Tinet, A Neutral Tandem Company, has now taken its Ethernet Exchange one step further. With its EtherCloud offering, it can provide end-to-end international connectivity to any company. It allows global coverage using VPLS through Juniper equipment in the core and Cisco in the access. Tinet is one of less than a handful of companies that can now provide direct Ethernet services on three continents.

    Global reach:  Telehouse America is known for its data center and managed services business in the US, but is quickly growing its reach internationally. It now has facilities on four continents – Asia, Europe, North America and Africa. Similar to Tinet, Telehouse is building out its Ethernet networks globally.

    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    Co-location and Managed Services in Southeastern PA

    By Lisa Huff

    There is a building complex just off route 183 in Southeastern PA that many don’t realize is a gem for co-location and managed services. Long known for his entrepreneurial spirit, Mr. Albert Boscov (of Boscov’s department stores) saw its potential and seized it in 2005. The two buildings are 292,000 square feet and house two data center co-location facilities along with several other businesses. What is unique about this property is that it is served by seven (7) telecom carriers – not only important to potential clients, but rare in rural PA. The facility also has two main telecom rooms and two separate power feeds.

    Directlink Technologies, one of the buildings’ tenants, is owned by Boscov (President) and CEO Arthur Quinlan. Its co-location data center is 110,000 square-feet of raised floor, half of which is currently occupied. The company boasts of being carrier-neutral, SAS70 Type II certified with network latency of less than 2 ms to New York City (Hudson) and less than 15 ms to Chicago.

    IPR International is another co-location/managed services provider that decided to lease space in the Boscov building. With corporate headquarters in Wayne, PA (just northwest of Philadelphia) and its continuous computing center in Wilmington, DE, IPR opted for a disaster recovery (DR) data center in Bernville, PA. While IPR started out as mostly backup and DR services, it can now provide everything from co-location up through totally managed services.

    Another company, Distributed Systems Services (DSS), has its own facility in Berks County. DSS started in IT services and later expanded into data center co-location and managed services. Its 15,000 square-foot data center is housed in a 350,000 square-foot building. It is considered a Tier 3 data center and has three telecom carriers for data center connection to “the cloud.”

    Reading, PA may not be an Internet hub, but is centrally located between two Internet Exchanges (New York and Ashburn) and within three hours driving distance of four major metropolitan areas – Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Washington DC. Compared to New York City, Berks county PA salaries for technical jobs are about 50 percent less, rental space is three to eight times cheaper and electricity costs about a third as much. These facilities could be just the answer for enterprises looking to outsource their IT – particularly those large healthcare and financial institutions in the northeastern US.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Telx and Carrier Ethernet Exchanges

    By Lisa Huff

    Telx defines itself as “The Interconnection Company,” so it’s no surprise that it is the leader in the emerging Carrier Ethernet Exchange market. What is most interesting to me is how simple Telx has made their Ethernet Exchange connection. I recently saw this first-hand at its 111 8th Ave NYC data center.

    But first, what exactly is a Carrier Ethernet Exchange? It occurred to me that this question needed to be answered when I was on a panel on this subject at OFC/NFOEC. While many of the attendees should be interested in what they are and how they are progressing, they didn’t seem to be. The Metro Ethernet Forum’s formal definition of an Ethernet Exchange is “an interconnect point among service providers where Carrier Ethernet Services are exchanged.” This really just means that if you’re an end user, you want this service so you can have a direct Ethernet connection. Today, most enterprises are still encapsulating their native Ethernet data into TDM/SONET/SDH then de-encapsulating it at the other end. However, more and more, end users are seeing the benefits of Ethernet Services and perhaps eventually, the entire public network may be running native Ethernet.

    While Telx is best known as one of the premier wholesale co-location providers, it was also at the forefront of Ethernet exchanges.  Telx is a carrier-neutral data center co-location provider and has several facilities around the New York metro area which enables it to supply seamless Ethernet connection not only between carriers, but between any of its co-location enterprise customers as well. Its Ethernet Exchange services have a range of options depending on customer’s needs. It charges by the port and can connect customers at 100 Mbps, Gigabit or 10G data rates through its Cisco ASR 9000 equipment. Telx expects to incorporate 40G as needed – probably not until 2012/2013 timeframe, though. No equipment is oversubscribed and low latency options are available for premiums.

    Telx considers Equinix and CENX its main competitors in the Ethernet exchange market. While it is rather difficult to quantify this market, Ethernet exchanges services are expected to have around a 20-percent CAGR over the next five years starting at 100’s of millions of dollars in 2011. Plenty of revenue to support the few entrants that have decided to focus on it so far.

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    FiberMedia To Become a Bigger Factor in the New York Market

    By Lisa Huff

    I recently had the privilege of sitting down with FiberMedia’s senior VP of sales and head of global operations and get a tour of its new co-location and managed services data center in Secaucus, New Jersey. Luckily for FiberMedia, this property was originally one of TD Waterhouse’s data centers so not much renovation was needed before it could be opened so it was brought on-line quickly. The other new data center is in Westchester, New York. These add to FiberMedia’s four other data centers in Jersey City, NJ, Brooklyn, NY, New York City and Cleveland, OH.

    Fiber Media prides itself on customizing solutions for its customers with flexible data center designs that manage their bandwidth. The Secaucus facility is carrier neutral with multiple fiber connections. Carriers include some of the largest telecommunications companies in the world as well as smaller regional providers. Among them are  AboveNet, AT&T, Cogent, Fibernet, Global Crossing, Hibernia, Keyspan, Level 3, Qwest, RCN, Sprint, Telia, Verizon and XO Communications.

    The Secaucus data center is currently 32,000 square-feet with another 8,000 for expansion. It has two points of entry so customers have less traffic past their areas. The data center is SAS70 certified. FiberMedia has customers that cross several vertical markets including financial, media, content delivery/distribution networking (CDN) and healthcare.

    FiberMedia recently received an infusion of cash from a new strategic partner, The Stevens Group, LLC and it seems that with this new partnership has attracted top new talent as well. In the last six months, it has made several new hires – CEO, CFO and VP of Sales all of which have extensive experience in other IT services businesses.

    FiberMedia appears to have a very specific plan for its co-location and managed services business. In addition to its two new data centers, it released a new managed cloud service. I have to admit that on the surface, this looked like just a lot of marketing hype to me, but after speaking with John Panzica, VP of Sales, about it, I understand that it’s not just your run-of-the-mill service. What it allows its customers to do is to totally manage their compute and storage demands remotely on the fly. I’m not sure any other company is offering this – at least I haven’t heard this from anyone else, yet.

    Before this visit, I had heard of FiberMedia, but didn’t really think they were much of a player in the New York marketplace. Now, based on their willingness to invest capital to build state-of-the-art data centers and to provide differentiated managed services, I believe they may give the other co-los a run for their money.