Inside Global Cloud Xchange's very first Trans-Pac cable

Metaratings
02 Apr 2014
00:00
Article

ITEM: Global Cloud Xchange – a.k.a. the carrier formerly known as Reliance Globalcom – is building a new Trans-Pacific cable from Tokyo to California that will offer terabit connectivity to customers.

According to the official announcement earlier this week, the Pacific Cloud Xchange (PCX) cable – scheduled to go into service next year – will be an 8,300km “four fiber pair system with initial design capacity per fiber pair at 100 x 100 Gbps using next generation coherent submarine fiber”, but Global Cloud Xchange CEO Bill Barney says it could be even bigger.

“We were initially looking at four fibers, but we may upgrade it to six, just because there’s a quite a bit of demand,” Barney told your reporter. “That will change the architecture a little bit, because we have to repower the system differently through the repeaters.”

Barney added it could also come down to which vendor gets the nod for the project.

“There are three of them bidding right now, and that does drive things like whether you go with two or four layers of diodes in the repeaters, because four gives you some optimization when you go above 100G,” he says. “So when you start looking out five years ahead, the style of repeater you put in determines whether you can run 1000G and where your repeater spacing has to be.”

And it pays to look ahead at this stage of the subsea fiber game, he adds. “We’re at an interesting time in the cable business you have to think about the next technology upgrade, what it will be, and how many years away is it. Right now 100G is pretty much standard, but at the rate we’re going now, it will be 1000G in three, maybe four years. It’ll be interesting because a lot of cables will top out at 100G – they can’t go further.”

As for why Global Cloud Xchange is building PCX in the first place, there are two obvious reasons: (1) exploding Trans-Pacific demand, and (2) Global Cloud Xchange’s FLAG system doesn’t actually have a Trans-Pac route (it carries US traffic via the Atlantic). But it’s also a tactic to give the carrier’s Indian subcontinent an alternative route besides Europe, Barney says.

“Most of our subcontinent traffic runs in through Europe and the US, and it’s got some choke points, such as Egypt – in the Middle East, that’s where all the cables go through, and so all of our Indian subcontinent traffic is compromised,” he explains. “So we need to create diversity going out of India.”

Meanwhile, Barney gave a preview of Global Cloud Xchange’s overall strategy for the year – which, as you would imagine from the company’s name change, involves a serious cloud play.

The process has already begun, with the carrier’s three main businesses (FLAG, Yipes and Vanco) consolidated from three separately managed companies into a single operation – at least on paper.

The next step will be merging the operations, products and go-to-market strategies, Barney says. “What we’re doing is taking the strengths of Vanco, which is a managed services play, and running that globally across the business and then putting our cloud capabilities behind that. When you think about it, cloud really is a managed service, because you’re selling server time, storage, access to applications, etc. We have that orchestration layer and management structure already in place in the company, so it’s really about taking glass and putting managed services on top of it.”

Not surprisingly, Barney sees cloud as the next major growth opportunity for carriers.

“We’re in the software industry now, whether we like it or not,” he insists. The Microsofts, Apples and Googles of the world need carrier networks to distribute their software and services in the cloud, and carriers are in a lucrative position to play in that space.

"That’s all good," Barney says. "We’re critical to the whole ecosystem, so it’s exciting times.”

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