Built for Scale: PacketFabric Deploys 400G on Cisco Silicon-1

April 6, 2021 | Bill Barry, VP Strategic Alliances, Cisco US

When you think of companies that are early adopters at the cutting edge of high bandwidth solutions like Cisco’s new 400G solutions built on Silicon-1, you might think of telco giants. You might not think of a Network as a Service (NaaS) provider.

But you should if you’re looking for telco-scale connectivity with the agility of the cloud. We’re proud to share that we are deploying Cisco NCS 8000, 400G, and segment routing.

Overlay Approaches Aren’t Enough

A common confusion point with folks who hear about NaaS is that they assume it’s just software automation and VPN tunnel overlays riding over the Internet. The fact of the matter is that many NaaS players are exactly that.

VPN Internet overlays are commonly used for connecting remote users in home offices, and branch offices to cloud applications, sometimes through Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) offerings. VPN overlays are popular because Internet access is relatively economical and easy to procure from anywhere.

However, there is a wholly different requirement when you are tying the core of your cloud architecture together. When I refer to the core of a cloud architecture, I’m talking about the interconnections that ensure that data flows across hybrid and multi-cloud environments with sufficient security, privacy, predictable performance, and scale to ensure that application performance and user experience isn’t bottlenecked by the network.

VPN overlays are problematic for your cloud backbone because they rely on an inherently unpredictable and insecure Internet. They also don’t scale–there’s a finite limit to how much bandwidth a tunnel can support across the Internet. In addition, Internet bandwidth can also introduce cost-efficiency challenges at scale.

Traditional Telco Choices Come with Limitations

If you’re looking for predictable, secure, and private, traditional telco services have always been the way you’ve gone. But the problem is that they are slow to provision, and non-agile. You have to commit to long-term contracts up-front, at peak anticipated capacity. Digital business requires the ability to respond to fast-changing conditions, so this lack of agility in terms of technical and business models becomes a significant barrier and potentially a threat to business health.

Telco-grade with Agility

What’s needed is a highly scalable, telco-grade answer to cloud connectivity that offers the agility of the cloud. That’s exactly what we built at PacketFabric. We believe that enterprise networking needs an open private fabric to compliment their move to cloud services as a part of their enterprise IT re-architecture or (more commonly coined) “digital transformation”. The consumption of business-critical services, cloud-based security, hybrid cloud application operation and multi-cloud connectivity are better and more reliably served by getting off of shared public access networks or spaghetti overlays and jumping onto private networks with engineered bandwidth, latency and jitter.

Our automated, on-demand private network fabric makes a cost-effective and highly automated “private option” available to our directly connected clients and through our service partners via our easy-to-use portal and API.

Need Scale? We’re Already There

PacketFabric is not an overlay or transit network on top of other providers. We operate our own fiber and routed network from our own PoPs, and built for scale from the ground up. We lead our industry in offering multi-100Gbps connectivity. In March, we enabled customers to turn on dedicated 100G cloud connectivity across our network.

Now, some of our customers are signaling that multi-hundred and 400Gbps will become a needed endpoint for connectivity within our fabric. With Cisco NCS 8000, we’re already there.

Why Cisco 400G Solutions

Like any of our peers in the transport industry, we care about power and space efficiency in our PoPs and the TCO of our solutions. We also care about the spectral efficiency afforded by 400G. These are all good reasons for collaborating with Cisco and deploying their solution, but the most important aspect of our relationship is rooted in our ability to program, monitor and expose telemetry from what is implemented (at many layers, when you are talking about integrated optical transport). Supporting this vital aspect of our operation is a testimony to Cisco - that they have kept pace with our requirements for this product.

We are a multi vendor network and believe PacketFabric is the best NaaS company for integration and partnership. Our SDN-based operation leverages the silicon-based innovations of partners like Cisco to provide high speed private networking and cloud access. We are able to take full advantage of Silicon-1 through our APIs and all the features that it offers.

The level of automation we’re able to operate in our network means that the scale we offer in our Cloud Router is like “skiing downhill” for us. We can automate on compute hosts (where necessary), whereas our competitors are having to climb in the opposite direction to automate over multi-vendor ASIC platforms.

Learn More

You can read more on our NaaS and Cloud Router, and Dave Ward’s conversation with Kevin Wollenweber (Vice President, Product Management - Service Provider Network System at Cisco Systems) about our use of Cisco’s new 400G solution here.