VIDEO: How Optical Tech Can Aid a Growing Data Center

Tim Dixon, CEO of InterOptic, stops by the InformationWeek News Desk to talk about the challenges faced as data centers and data capacity grows and how optical technology can help address those challenges.

Watch the video:

Video Transcript

Lenny Liebmann: Welcome back to Information Week News Desk coming to you from InterOp ITX in Las Vegas, I am Lenny Liebmann. Our next guest is the CEO of InterOptic, Tim Dixon. Tim it’s good to see you.

Tim Dixon: It’s nice to see you Lenny.

Lenny Liebmann: So, I want to ask you. Are you seeing anything in particular being kind of

What is putting the pressure on the way we are architecting our data center networks?

Tim Dixon: It’s not so much the architecture of the data center, and frankly a lot of the infrastructure advancement that is going on is good. It’s the issue with optical technology in general. So optical technology is falling behind compared to compute, compared to networking, compared to storage. On the order of about four times every 5 years. So, we just haven’t seen the advancement and the innovation we need inside the data center in the optical data interconnect realm.

Lenny Liebmann: And that’s in part because optical was once so far ahead that it kind of plateaued there and especially like with flash storage, the performances become so high on the other side so that the optical was kind of playing leap frog.

Tim Dixon: Absolutely. So,

You have seen the advancements, kind of the Moore’s Law 10x in most every area, you just haven’t seen it in optics and we have probably seen about a decade and a half of falling behind in that area.

So, there is going to have to be a change. It used to say transmission, that part of the equation is dead. Well, we are going to have to see something new come along pretty soon or we are going to hit a bottleneck.

Lenny Liebmann: Yeah, this is the game of whack-a-mole that we have kind of played forever.

Tim Dixon: Exactly.

Lenny Liebmann: Which is, you deal with one and something else pops up. So, tell me a little about how you guys address these pressures.

Tim Dixon: Basically, we focus on the optical heritage that we bring to the table.

We have people on staff that have done optics for the past 30 years

and we focus on what needs to happen in terms of the transmission between the equipment and the fact that you know, a lot of the architectural changes are putting more pressure and we basically are going to have to not do what we do today, but look at new and innovative ways to make that interconnect.

Lenny Liebmann:

But if I adopt this technology in my data center, am I going to void any of my agreements or relationships

or somehow harm them, the folks selling everything else because I’m interposing something they didn’t sell me, that they don’t support, between their pieces of equipment?

Tim Dixon: And that’s always a worry for customers. The short answer is no.

Basically the OEM equipment providers basically have federal laws against having a warranty tie-in provision and so they can feel comfortable.

I mean we have many Fortune 100 companies that are our customers that everyday plug in our optic solutions and they don’t void their warranty and they are fully serviced by the OEM. So yeah, we can mix and match and our product is designed to do that.

Lenny Liebmann: And I would assume there is some advantage in terms of access to expertise because you guys just specialize in this, where as somebody else buying something from is part of the whole infrastructure play and probably has their heritage, quite frankly, in servers or storage or something else.

Tim Dixon: That’s absolutely true. They know routers, they know router software, but

when it comes to actually debugging and getting a Level 3 tech on the line to figure out what’s happening in the optical realm, there’s not too many places to go anymore.

But, we are one of them.

Lenny Liebmann: So, there is a performance play here, there is an engagement and expertise play here, cost is certainly an issue. Do you want to just talk about the economics of the data center because I think all of us are under a lot of pressure to do much, much more with very little more, if anything. You know how budgets are today.

Tim Dixon: So yeah, and that’s exactly what happens when a customer comes to us they realize they can kind of relook at their priorities in terms of spend. And you know, we have done a lot of research and done that with research firms like Gartner, Forrester, but also what we see with our customers and basically about,

If you look at the hardware networking spend, about 10% of that is optics or data interconnect.

Put another way, for a Fortune 1000 average customer, about 8 to 10 million they spend on optics every year. So, it is a chunk so that they could save 30% to 50% there, they can put that to another initiative and you know, it’s a win-win for them.

Lenny Liebmann: And that’s really a central issue I think a lot of times people who are stewards of IT budgets look at incremental savings on infrastructure and they only look at it in perspective of the cost of infrastructure. If you think about allocating those savings to innovation initiatives, which are very hard to fund, I think that’s really where the win is. We are not just trying to shave cost, we are trying to shift more and more of our spending to something that really moves the needle on the business.

Tim Dixon: You’re right and frankly, to be honest with you, a lot of IT professionals don’t look at this bucket of spending because they have been kind of programmed not to and if they look at total cost of ownership,

In many cases, you are spending more on optics and that data interconnect than you ever did on the platforms over a six or seven year period that you are depreciating the expense.

Lenny Liebmann: You did some rebranding. The company was called something else. Could you sort of talk about what that is for you as a CEO not only specifically for your company but for the notion of rebranding?

Tim Dixon: Yeah, basically around what we see happening. The pressure that is happening inside the data center and the fact that because of the growth there, that it’s no longer a discussion about specifying and interface. It goes way beyond that because they are going to hit a roadblock basically a brick wall in terms of what they can do in the amount of traffic that they need to move around in the data center and InterOptic is really one of the few companies that’s looking at a wholistic level and so that’s why we decided.. hey look, InterOptic is really a nice badge for us and explains what we want to do long term in the future.

Lenny Liebmann: Yeah I think like what you say, it may be a good time to look at this not only because of the pressures of what we now but because of the pressures that are certainly coming up in the future as the network continues to have to do more with less.

Tim Dixon:

In a decade, data interconnect is going to look completely different.

There is going to have to be different options in terms of the way we do it and that is what InterOptic is here to do.

Lenny Liebmann: Great, glad you were here to talk to us about it. That is Tim Dixon, CEO of InterOptic and we will be back with more from the Information News Desk after this.