Juniper Networks is making more moves in optical networking, today announcing its purchase of Aurrion, an innovator in silicon photonics technology. It did not disclose terms of the deal.
Juniper’s Founder Pradeep Sindhu, in a corporate blog posting today, says the cost of the optoelectronics portion of the network — the one that converts electricity to light and vice-versa — has become progressively more expensive over the years.
“Historically, the optoelectronic portion represented significantly less than half the cost of a networking system, especially for optoelectronics designed for short to medium distances,” he writes. “If we fast forward to today, we see that things have completely reversed.”
Aurrion’s silicon photonics technology provides more power-efficiency and can carry information over long distances at a lower cost per bit-per-second for networking systems. In addition, it improves bandwidth density.
Silicon photonics has lived in R&D purgatory for 15 or 20 years and is finally coming to market. Intel was talking about it at the Open Compute Project (OCP) meeting in March. The technology seems destined to replace conventional non-silicon materials in next-generation data centers.
Juniper’s Optical Networking
Based on Sindhu’s comments, Juniper seems focused on reducing the cost of the optical portion of networking. Perhaps locking down these costs will result in big advantages over competitors in the long term.
In March, Juniper said BTI Systems’ packet optical technology was critical to integrate the IP network and the optical network for data center interconnection in metro networking. Juniper will use its NorthStar Controller for software-defined networking (SDN) on these metro networks, targeting Tier 2s.