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Fiber Mountain CEO Talks Future of Network Architecture

January 28, 2015

The rapid adoption of cloud-based solutions and increased use of more complex applications and smarter devices is transforming the way enterprises do business today. But despite the improved collaboration and enhanced productivity these technical developments are now providing, they are also causing an explosion in bandwidth needs that is putting tremendous pressure on hyperscale data centers.

With that growing issue as a backdrop, on Wednesday morning, Jan. 28 at ITEXPO Miami, Fiber Mountain CEO M.H. Raza spoke with TMC CEO Rich Tehrani for a keynote “fireside chat” about the present and future of data center networking.

Raza’s company was founded to address the need for a more efficient and cost-effective model for network architecture. As bandwidth needs continue to expand, Raza argues that the way enterprises have dealt with increased traffic in the past—simply buying larger switches from incumbent vendors—will become untenable. Between purchasing fire-breathing core switches, securing more space to house hardware and paying massive power bills, data center networks are already growing overly complex and incredibly expensive to run. 

“With bandwidth needs increasing, can we confidently say that our current model is sustainable?” Raza asked rhetorically. “We think we have to fundamentally look at networks differently.”

During his conversation with Tehrani, Raza framed the discussion as “innovators vs. incumbents,” arguing that in many cases, disruptive technology is developed by startups that are not as invested in existing solutions. Incumbent vendors, for example, aren’t likely to have any interest in reducing the amount of hardware needed to operate data centers–they make a lot of money off of that hardware. But companies like Fiber Mountain and others are developing solutions that help simplify network infrastructure. 

“Incumbent vendors didn’t think white box switches would work,” Raza said. “And yet here they are.”

Fiber Mountain’s answer to expanding bandwidth needs is a Glass Core based on fiber-optic connectivity that replaces a number of complex protocols, boxes, core switches and aggregation switches. Rather than forcing enterprises to continue to buy massive core switches, the Glass Core works hand in hand with a centralized SDN controller to create programmable light paths that can dynamically deliver packets between any two points on the network. By eliminating the need for large, power-consuming core switches, data centers spend less on power, require less space and save the upfront cost of buying these devices, which is now in the neighborhood of $1 million.

In closing, Raza reiterated his belief that network architecture must get more scalable and less complex. The growth of bandwidth needs is accelerating, not slowing, which means data centers need to be thinking about how to reduce the amount of hardware they need in their environments now, not later.

“The question we ask is, ‘Can you survive without these core switches?” Raza explained. “The answer is yes.”

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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