OFC 2017 – Compact DCI Equipment

In our final OFC 2017 report we discuss new product announcements on purpose-built datacenter hardware and components, and share our thoughts on market developments.

  • Evolution of the compact DCI market, including recently published 4Q16 market share and adoption by new customers
  • New products and solutions, investigating announcements by Nokia, Fujitsu, and Juniper
  • Direct detect – one year later, the appearance of Ranovus, and network operator of the technology’s long term prospects

Requires Optical Active Insight subscription.

OFC 2017 – Open vs. Closed Optical Networks

There was a new cult this year at OFC, the ‘Cult of Open.’ It formed from rising sentiment that the lack of interoperability of vendors in optical networks is a major problem and that the industry needs to embrace hardware dis-aggregation.

This is not a bad cult – it ignited a healthy debate that illuminates both the positive and negative aspects of open networks and closed single-vendor networks. Some member of the Cult of Open overloon an inconvenient truth – closed networks from one vertically integrated vendor can vastly outperform open networks in some cases. Cignal AI’s key takeaways concerning open optical networks and hardware disaggregation include:

  • Facebook’s Voyager Platform
  • Open ROADM and Line Systems
  • Benefits of Vertical Integration

Requires Optical Active Insight subscription.

OFC 2017 – Coherent Technology

400G Coherent and Beyond
Ciena had a blockbuster announcement at OFC 2017, but there was plenty of other interesting news to feast on. Cignal AI’s key takeaways concerning coherent WDM include:

  • The outlook for 200G and CFP2-ACO volumes in 2017
  • Opinions on Ciena WaveLogic Ai Licensing
  • The roadmap review for 400G/600G & Acacia Pico
  • Sizing the risk and reward for the 400G ZR market

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OFC 2017 – Inside the Datacenter

100G and the Road to 400G

The transition to 100G network speeds inside the data center is underway at every major hyperscale operator simultaneously, creating major industry bottlenecks. Despite QSFP28 being supply constrained, component and equipment suppliers are also trying to align on the next generation format for 400G operation. Cignal AI’s key takeaways from OFC 2017 with regard to data center optics include:

  • Updates on QSFP28 supply and demand
  • Alternative facts on both sides of the Octal SFP (OSFP) vs. QSFP DD debate
  • Impact of QSFP28 on CFP/CFP2 client demand
  • 400G CFP8 and 200G QSFP observations and outlook

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Investor Call – OFC 2017 Takeaways

Andrew Schmitt provided key OFC 2017 takeaways during an investor call hosted by Troy Jensen of Piper Jaffray. Sixty-seven investors participated. Topics of interest included:

  • Impact of Ciena’s Wavelogic AI DSP Licensing
  • Outlook for Coherent Port Shipments in China During 2017
  • Market Outlook for CFP2-ACO/DCO and QSFP28 Markets
  • Potential Vertical Integration by Intel or InPhi
  • Timing of Metro Coherent and ROADM deployment in China
  • Chinese SARFT Capex Guidance
  • Roadmap for 400G and 600G Coherent
  • Observations on Infinera, Ciena, Acacia, Oclaro, and Neophotonics

Following is a summary of the key takeaways, as well as a full transcript of the discussion. Cignal AI clients can also listen to an audio replay.
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Ciena Wavelogic Ai and 400G Roadmap

This past October, Ciena announced its new coherent DSP, dubbed Wavelogic Ai. Ciena used the announcement to convey its coherent 100G+ roadmap and support for 400G. Ciena also hinted at important changes to its 100G+ business model as Wavelogic Ai is introduced to customer networks. These changes also cascade into the 400G component supply chain.

Wavelogic Ai doubles down on Ciena’s strategy of vertical integration of the DSP and optics, and extends it further into the control plane. The company continues to eschew the use of outside suppliers like Acacia, NTT Electronics, or Clariphy. We believe Ciena’s vertical integration is the company’s strategy for successfully competing with commodity hardware and dis-aggregated networks.
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Intel 3Q16

Intel’s financial results provide useful insight into the economic activities of the Cloud and Colo market. Effectively all of the CPUs (and now FPGAs) used in data centers come from Intel, and the company is slowly extending into other businesses via silicon photonics. The company reported results this week and digging through the numbers foreshadows an interesting conclusion about Cloud and Colo spend in 3Q16.
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Investor Call – China 2017, CFP2-ACO, Coherent DSPs

Andrew Schmitt gave an update on the optical equipment and component market during an investor call hosted by Troy Jensen of Piper Jaffray on Tuesday, October 4. Sixty-eight investors participated. An extended Q&A session followed Andrew’s presentation, and topics of interest included:

  • China 100G port volume trends for 2H16 and 2017
  • Huawei’s upcoming 100G technology decisions and supplier purchasing shifts
  • CFP2-ACO shipments and the component & equipment supply chain for this product
  • Coherent DSP R&D developments and supplier updates
  • Updates on direct-detect 100G and PAM-4 development
  • Observations on Infinera, Ciena, Acacia, Inphi, and Clariphy and discussion of potential M&A activity

Following is a summary of the key takeaways, as well as a full transcript of the discussion. Cignal AI clients can also listen to an audio replay.
Requires Optical Active Insight subscription.

ECOC 2016 Notes and Observations

Andrew Schmitt presented at the ECOC (European Conference for Optical Communications) in Dusseldorf, Germany during the week of Sept. 19. No time was wasted during the trip as Andrew fit in well over 30 scheduled meetings with component and equipment suppliers and end users of optical hardware.

The meetings were very productive and we gained new insight in several areas:

  • Huawei’s plans to transition to 100G CFP-DCO technology and what will follow
  • Updates on vendor selection and R&D in coherent DSPs
  • Details on the ongoing ramp in CFP2-ACO and the development of this new market
  • Overview of 400G market development
  • More insight into Nokia’s China Mobile optical design win

Requires Optical Active Insight subscription.

ECOC 2016 Market Focus Presentation

Andrew Schmitt has returned from a week of meetings in Europe including three days at the European Conference on Optical Communications (ECOC). He spoke to a capacity crowd at the ECOC Market Focus event and presented a summary of Cignal AI’s latest data. The presentation explored the latest developments in the optical DCI equipment and Metro 100G+ markets.

Optical Active Insight clients can download his presentation.

Powerpoint (.pdf)

Acacia 2Q16 Preview

Acacia is scheduled to report earnings on August 11th, and this will be the company’s first quarterly report since completing its recent IPO. In April 2016, Cignal AI examined Acacia’s business and S-1 filing in detail and provided our analysis on the company (see Acacia Communications – IPO Analysis).

ADVA’s recent quarterly results hint at what to expect from Acacia’s 2Q16 results announcement. In the following, we provide relevant excerpts on Acacia from our just-posted ADVA 2Q16 notes so that we may share this Active Insight with our wider client and end-user audience, who may not necessarily be subscribers to our Optical Hardware reporting.

Some followers of the market are anticipating flat revenue results from Acacia in Q2.  Based on our analysis, we think this expectation is too conservative.
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Next Gen Optical Networking 2016

Andrew presented the keynote presentation to kick off Next Gen Optical Networking in Nice, France on June 29th. His presentation was titled “Making Technology Decisions in a Challenging Environment”, and used Cignal AI’s recently released optical equipment market data to support observations of the market.

Registered users (free) can read the rest and download the presentation.
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Investor Call – China, CFP2-ACO, ROADMs & More

Andrew Schmitt created some excitement when he spoke about optical component and equipment market trends on a Piper Jaffray investor call on April 22. 83 investor clients were on the line, and some insightful questions were posed to Andrew as he gave his observations on a wide range of topics. The following is a full transcript of that discussion.
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Metro DCI – What’s Next

Andrew presented “Metro DCI – What’s Next?” at the annual OSA Executive Forum before OFC 2016. His slides focused on the evolution of metro DCI and highlighted the opportunity for metro-access 100G, including coherent and non-coherent approaches.

Co-panelists included Arista and Microsoft. Microsoft used this opportunity to announce it’s intention to deploy InPhi’s ColorZ PAM-4 metro-access 100G technology.
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Optical Whitebox – OFC 2016

Component and equipment vendors outlined the investments they are making in anticipation of some service providers adopting open line systems or fully dis-aggregated optical systems. This is a contentious technology trend in the industry; one which ignites opinions and whose conclusion is far from clear.

After silicon photonics, this was the area of the most interesting activity during OFC 2016. It is a complex trend requires equipment & component vendors to pivot both their hardware architectures and business models to address new potential opportunities. And it is far from clear whether this market will extend beyond the webco.

We review vendor activity and our observations of this market.
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Acacia Communications – IPO Analysis

The optical networking world finally gets a close up view of Acacia’s performance as the company is filing for an IPO. The most recent S-1/A filing by Acacia includes 2015 financial details, which we review through the lenses of Cignal AI’s customer and market knowledge in order to create a fine-grained view of the company’s performance and qualitative outlook. This analysis includes a detailed projection of customer composition for 90%+ of revenue, market share within entire 100G market, and estimates of ASPs beyond what is included in public documents.
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Silicon Photonics – OFC 2016

The optical component industry is changing from one in which existing InP and discrete designs are replicated in SiPho to a new approach under which the unique benefits of SiPho are better exploited. Several announcements made recently at OFC 2016 underscore that companies are beginning to migrate to these key applications for silicon photonics.
Requires Optical Active Insight subscription.