Cisco wants to light up data centers

Cisco buys Lightwire to create high-speed, high-volume switches that are priced for data centers.

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So Cisco Systems is buying Lightwire, a Pennsylvania start-up that makes optical technology for high-speed networking.

Apparently, Cisco believes Lightwire’s high-speed yet small silicon chips that can be used to transmit data via pulses of light instead of electric signals will come in useful. In a prepared statement, Surya Panditi, senior VP of Cisco’s Service Provider Networking Group, said the acquisition “will support our data center and service provider customers as they manage the continuing deluge of network traffic alongside tight capital and operating budgets.” Cisco agreed to pay $271 million for Lightwire.

Optical networking technologies are already being used to build fat wide area networks. The State of Mississippi spent about $16 million on an optical network (built by AT&T) so its universities could have access to a high-speed, data sharing network. According to this article about the Mississippi Optical Network, or MissiON, the optical network provides the University of Mississippi (UM) with a bigger pipe that could handle research work that relies on detailed images, videos, simulations and large data sets.

Mississippi State University is also using MissiON, and the University of Southern Mississippi, Jackson State University and the University of Mississippi Medical Center will switch soon. NASA's Stennis Space Center and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also plan to access it, the Clarion Ledger reports.

There are more details about what UM did in this Associated Press article, which notes that UM connects to the State of Mississippi Data Center through two 10 GB managed wave circuits. The university installed new equipment in its data center in December to enable the connection.

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