John Chiarini, Technical Solutions Architect

OFC covers a wide range of optical communications and networking topics, from the components used to build network devices, to fiber optic cables, and networking systems. 

Pluggable optics remain a focus of innovation, with all major equipment vendors showcasing 800G and 1.2T DWDM optical modules. Pluggable optics continue to drive DWDM capabilities into the routing domain. So much so, companies not considered "optical" OEMs like Juniper and Arista showcased DWDM capabilities within their switch and routing platforms.   

AI was also a significant topic, with the spotlight on the infrastructure required to support AI-specific data flow requirements within data centers. Optically based switching technologies are poised to transform data center architectures due to the unique demands of AI workloads. By leveraging optical switches, and high speed optics, data centers can achieve ultra-low latency, high bandwidth, and scalable connectivity, thus optimizing the performance of AI applications. 


Tyler Tappy, Technical Solutions Architect

OFC was a wonderful experience overall.  During the event, we saw our major partners at their respective booths and many other interesting side booths and presentations.  In general, most partners are doing similar things.  This year we saw the introduction of most major OEMs highlighting their latest and greatest high-speed optical interfaces.  This is important as operators continue to scale their environment to satisfy growth in bandwidth demands while reducing the cost per bit.  Another driving factor for increasing wavelength speeds are combating surging energy costs and meeting sustainability targets.  It was interesting to see the varying strategies to increase bandwidth while also tackling the reduction of rack space and overall footprint.  On one hand, you have the traditional optical transport OEMs from the likes of Cisco, Nokia, Ciena, and Infinera highlighting traditional transponder and muxponder solutions.  However, another increasingly popular option is in the convergence of optical coherent high-speed pluggable interfaces being housed directly in the router itself.  Of note Cisco, Nokia, Ciena, and Arista are all showcasing solutions to offer a more converged look and feel.  Driving high-speed coherent QSFP-DD pluggable optics while also offering (in some cases) a pluggable filter with amplifier capabilities all housed directly in the router. 

It was also great to catch up with industry experts and get their take on topics such as AI which was a huge discussion point. As operators transition to more open networking, AI is becoming a critical tool to enhance the designing experience and to help with alarm detection and root cause alarm analysis within the network.  Overall, the enhancement of these products leveraging AI will make networks easier to design, operate, and troubleshoot going forward.  Another hot panel topic was the interfacing of many optical vendors within the same network.  OIF put on an impressive lab remarkably similar to our multi-vendor multi-layer (MLMV) lab in the ATC.  In this lab, they demonstrated the possibility of having Vendor A's pluggable optic in Vendor Z's router talking over Vendor X's line system, and so on and so forth.  An example of this is having a Cisco pluggable QSFP-DD optic in a Juniper router transported over an Adva line system terminating in a Cisco router with a Coherent QSFP-DD pluggable optic.  This is one example in the system but there were many other vendors displayed in this lab.  Overall, quite an impressive display of open networking across many vendor's solutions.  This demonstrated not only the possibility of the technology but more importantly the power it gives operators to select the best solution based on their objectives and goals. 


OFC was a fantastic opportunity to see the latest solutions and industry hot topics while also solidifying our already impressive OEM partnerships.  I look forward to seeing what OFC has to offer next year.