In Part I of this blog series, “What is the open packet optical switch, Voyager?”, we discussed the challenges and remedies for providing additional bandwidth for intra and inter data center connections. DWDM is a powerful technology that provides hundreds of gigabits of bandwidth over hundreds or thousands of kilometers using just a fiber pair. We also reviewed some information about DWDM networks and transponder functionality. Voyager provides all the functionality of Cumulus Linux running on a Broadcom Tomahawk based switch and integrates the transponders into the switch itself, all in 1RU. This makes it the first open and fully integrated box operating at DWDM, Layer 2 and Layer 3 in 1RU, making it extremely flexible.

Incorporating routing, switching and DWDM in one node could mean fewer boxes needed for the network, since DWDM functionality could be incorporated directly into border leafs. Because it runs Cumulus Linux (CL), all CL data center functionality, such as VXLAN Routing with EVPN, is also supported. For example, a pair of Voyager nodes can be used as VXLAN routing centralized routers with EVPN, hosting VXLAN VTEPs, running MLAG, and provide the long distance DWDM connectivity all in one box!

Voyager also allows full unification of the data center — configure the servers, switches and DWDM box with the same automation and monitoring tools.

Last but not least, Voyager offers all this at a much lower price point than typical transponder/muxponder-only solutions by proprietary vendors. You get additional functionality for less! Since it is less expensive, it may even be affordable to self-spare and not rely on a proprietary vendor’s expensive RMA contracts.

Why is Voyager so flexible?

Voyager has twelve QSFP28 ethernet ports that can connect to data center switches. Each of these ports can be broken out individually, allowing support of 10G all the way up to 100G to the data center switches. Each of the QSFP28 ethernet ports connect internally to the Broadcom Tomahawk ASIC.

Voyager also hosts two transponders (TPDR). One TPDR services DWDM line ports L1 and L2, and the other TPDR services DWDM ports L3 and L4. If 100G or 200Gbps is needed on the DWDM ports, each of these four DWDM ports can be configured independently from each other. When 150G line side is being utilized, two ports (L1/L2 and/or L3/L4) must be coupled together to support a total of 300G and the remote end must be configured the same way.

voyager use cases

Since the traffic goes through the Tomahawk ASIC in both directions, all the features offered by Cumulus Linux with Tomahawk can be applied, such as routing and switching. Also, since the transponder is directly connected to the Tomahawk ASIC, there is no direct mapping between the external QSFP28 ports and the DWDM line side ports — giving the customer ultimate flexibility. Any QSFP28 port can be used as a normal switch/router port, configured for bonding, VLANS, bridging, IP addresses with routing, etc., and directed to any DWDM port or a different QSFP28 port. If desired, the switch can also be configured for direct mapping between the QSFP28 and DWDM ports. Simply configure a bridge between the two ports. Likewise, if routing is desired instead of bridging, configure an IP address on the switchport and enable FRR routing. It’s that simple. There are many different options.

For example, the below diagram shows traffic coming in a QSFP28 port and exiting out the L4 port.

voyager use cases

How can Voyager help me?

Voyager provides the perfect data center interconnect solution as it is very flexible. It can be deployed with or without Layer 2 and Layer 3. It can be deployed over dark fiber (common in metro areas or between buildings in a large data center) or it can be deployed as an alien wavelength over an Active DWDM line system — the choice is all yours.

Since it runs Cumulus Linux, Voyager will also provide data center features such as BGP, OSPF, VXLAN tunnels, EVPN, VLANS, native automation and more.

For brevity, we identify just two examples in this blog, but many more are applicable. You can check out the video below if you’re interested in a more in-depth look at these Voyager use cases as well.

Example #1

Voyager can be used to interconnect data centers within a metro area. In this specific case, we deploy Voyager over dark fiber, using a passive multiplexer/demultiplexer to transport the different wavelengths over the same pair of fibers across the metro area. Amplifiers may be needed depending upon the number of wavelengths and the distance. Voyager is the border leaf, eliminating the need for both a DWDM box and a separate border leaf in the data center. This scenario can easily scale out to many PODS and/or many data centers.

This same scenario may be used for connections between buildings that host a large data center. Voyager with a mux/demux can provide multiple large bandwidth pipes over minimal fiber pairs. In this case, depending on distance, amplifiers may not be needed.

voyager use cases

Example #2

Voyager can also be used over an active optical line system, when more distance and flexibility are required or dark fiber is not available. For example, it can be used when high speed connectivity is required for data center backup. It will operate in the disaggregated approach where the originated wavelength is independent or separate from the line system, sometimes called an alien wavelength. In this case, a service provider can use Voyager to connect a customer(s) to a remote data center for backup purposes.

voyager use cases

How do I try one out?

Voyager will be available as Early Access in April 2018. We’ve been putting together a variety of resources for you to get to know the benefits of Voyager. If you’d like to speak with someone about using Voyager in your business, contact our sales team.

Be sure to also read the previous blog in this series, “What is the open packet optical switch, Voyager?” In this post, we go into further depth about what makes Voyager so revolutionary and the key technical aspects of its DWDM transponders. If you really want to know the ins and outs of Voyager’s capabilities, you’ll definitely want to check out part I!