World Technology

A new offering from Lumen, dubbed ExaSwitch, offers a new approach to interconnecting hyperscale internet entities. As Lumen Chief Technology Officer Andrew Dugan explained in an interview with Telecompetitor, the offering enables hyperscalers to connect with one another in a metro area via an optical switch fabric operated by Lumen.

The offering is “very unique in the sense that you have very high-capacity all-optical connections that users can control themselves,” said Dugan. “They don’t have to meet somewhere to do it.”

Lumen already has signed on Microsoft and Google to use the offering, as well as a third entity that did not want its identity revealed. Microsoft and Google helped develop the offering, Dugan said.

Participants do not have to collocate in data centers to exchange traffic. Instead, each participant gets a wavelength connection from its own data center to the optical switch matrix and can add capacity as needed through a self-service portal.

“If you have 10 participants, they can each have their own building,” Dugan said.

Lumen installs optical hardware at each participant’s location, maintains that hardware and charges an administrative fee, Dugan explained. According to a Lumen press release, participants can choose their own fiber source for connecting into ExaSwitch.

As Lumen explains in the press release, connections are set up in 400G increments and “can be consumed on demand in 100G increments.” Each site is capable of up to 15.6 Tbps of optical cross connects.

Lumen: ExaSwitch

The offering specifically targets entities with high-capacity needs, Dugan said. It is now operational in Chicago, Dallas and Virginia, and Lumen plans to expand to “all major markets in North America with large internet hubs.”

As Dugan explained, internet content exchange is just one potential ExaSwitch use case.

Participants could also use the capacity, for example, to establish connections to the cloud, for network-to-network interfaces or for private networking, Dugan said.

Lumen has been investing in optical networking quite aggressively in recent years, expanding network capacity and making some key customer wins among large enterprises and government agencies.

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