Last year was another exciting year for 100 GbE as we saw several new technical developments and large deployments by service provider, data center, research and HPC network operators. Here's a quick recap of the highlights for 2012. AMS-IX, our biggest 100 GbE customer and one of the biggest 100 GbE networks in the world, upgraded their 10 GbE core to a 100 GbE core with over 90 x 100 GbE ports in their backbone alone for a capacity of over 7.8 Tbps. The IEEE 802.3ba standard for 40 GbE and 100 GbE, now over 2½ years old, was added to the latest IEEE 802.3-2012 "Standard for Ethernet". 2nd generation 100 GbE projects in the IEEE P802.3bj and P802.3bm Task Forces are in progress that will lower cost and increase density. We’re now well underway to the next evolution of 100 GbE technology and even to the next speed of Ethernet, 400 GbE.
One trend that I’ve noticed among service providers is that 100 GbE peering at IXPs (Internet Exchange Points) is on the rise. We saw a lot of 100 GbE deployments primarily in core networks over the past couple of years, and now 100 GbE peering is taking off too. Several IXPs around the world, most of whom are Brocade customers, have announced the availability of 100 GbE peering ports or the intent offer them this year: AMS-IX (Amsterdam), DE-CIX (Frankfurt), JPIX (Tokyo), JPNAP (Tokyo), LINX (London), Netnod (Stockholm) and NIX.CZ (Prague). AMS-IX for example has deployed three 100 GbE customer ports already, and has six more on order that are expected to go live in the next several weeks. They will also have the first customer 2 x 100 GbE LAG, which will upgrade a 12 x 10 GbE LAG.
The motivation for 100 GbE peering is obvious: to reduce the number of 10 GbE LAGs that connect to an IXP for cheaper and simpler peering. 10 GbE LAG is a great solution but when you consider the port costs, cross connect costs, management and troubleshooting costs, etc. it does start to add up. Costs are different for every network operator as all networks are different, but in general 100 GbE starts to make sense when 10 GbE LAGs exceed six to seven links. Incidentally it also made sense to upgrade to a DS3 when a link exceeded six to seven inverse-multiplexed DS1s when I was a network engineer at MindSpring in the late 1990s, so there is some strange commonality in that number of links. AMS-IX’s 100 GbE port price for example is €9000/month, which is six times the 10 GbE port price of €1500/month.
There is another motivation for 100 GbE peering that is not so obvious too, and this demand comes from IXP resellers. IXP resellers are a relatively new development in the peering industry that enables service providers to peer remotely from anywhere in the world through a reseller port. Until recently, service providers were required to have a physical presence at an IXP in order to peer, because IXPs do not offer long haul transport services. Now IXP resellers, in partnership with an IXP, can resell peering ports remotely over their network to their customers. Remote peering capacity demand is what’s driving these 100 GbE ports. In order for a reseller to offer a high capacity service to their customer, say for example 20 Gbps or 40 Gbps, their own peering port to the IXP has to have the capacity available. Deploying a 100 GbE port to the IXP gives a reseller both the capacity and the flexibility to offer more capacity on demand, without having to constantly manage 10 GbE LAGs.
So, expect more announcements from IXPs about 100 GbE ports this year as 100 GbE peering goes mainstream in 2013.
Acknowledgements: I’d like to thank Henk Steenman, AMS-IX CTO, for his valuable insight and interesting data on 100 GbE peering.