CALIENT Technologies

Move the light, not the fiber

CALIENT Technologies and Plexxi Partner to Bring Software-Defined Networking to Large-Scale Data Center Networks

Integrated fiber optic solution offers more holistic and efficient infrastructure 

ANAHEIM, Calif. – OFC/NFOEC – March 18, 2013 — CALIENT Technologies, Inc., the global leader for photonic switching technology, and Plexxi Inc., creator of the industry’s first affinity-driven networking solution, today announced a product integration that demonstrates the benefits of a software defined optical layer in today’s complex and highly dynamic data centers: increased flexibility, time savings and decreased complexity.

Aimed at large-scale data centers, this integration leverages the major tenet of software-defined networking (SDN): a centralized controller operating with a network-wide view to drive forwarding behavior.

The Integration

With its Plexxi Control, Plexxi has introduced a way to push the benefits of optics in the data center – advances in scale and economics for performance, power and latency and unprecedented flexibility – to the server edge. This allows large groups of servers to be interconnected over an optical mesh fabric, helping those benefits become a reality.

The integration with CALIENT’s S320 optical circuit switch takes this to the next level by extending the advantage of the software defined optical layer to large enterprises and hyperscale cloud data centers.  These networks typically experience very high bandwidth, with dynamic but persistent traffic flows, that are well supported by the cost-efficiency and virtually unlimited scalability of the 3D MEMS photonic switching CALIENT offers.

By integrating these two products that are built with SDN architectures, the Plexxi/CALIENT solution is able to abstract the entire network and relate network capabilities back to what users actually need to accomplish. The result is dynamic network behavior based on real time information, which allows applications and network analytics to determine and implement the network structure needed to make the maximum use of existing network resources.

How It Works

The Plexxi Switch handles short, bursty data flows through its Ethernet-based fabric and also provides an optical multiplexing layer for intermediate-sized flows. When large persistent flows are detected, these are routed through the CALIENT S320, thereby freeing up the packet-based network and optical multiplexing layer. Plexxi Control detects and manages the data flows through the hybrid packet-circuit network, ultimately improving latency and flexibility.

“The hybrid data center network concept, while still new, resonates with customers who see a future that includes dramatic growth and need solutions that can help to alleviate bottlenecks,” said Daniel Tardent, vice president of marketing at CALIENT. “SDN is the ideal technology to tie together the packet and optical circuit networks.  The alliance with Plexxi provides a great opportunity to showcase the very real benefits for large datacenters.”

“The ability to treat different parts of the network that used to be in silos as one giant resource reinforces our view that the network should be managed holistically,” said Mat Mathews, co-founder and VP of product management at Plexxi. “In order to do this, vendors need to have a way of exchanging information. Our integration with CALIENT is a step in the right direction to achieving a more holistically managed – and therefore more efficient – infrastructure.”

The combined solution will be on display in booth 1225 at OFC/NFOEC (March 19-21, 2013 in Anaheim, Calif.).


The CALIENT S320 optical circuit switch is based on CALIENT’s proprietary 3D microelectromechanical (MEMS) technology.  The switch supports up to 320 ports (320 input ports and 320 output ports) and has a capacity of more than 32 Tbps and supports per-port data rates of more than 100 Gbps. Completely agnostic to data protocols, the S320 allows any-to-any network connections with almost no latency (<60 ns).

Plexxi Control and Plexxi Switch

Plexxi Control is server-based software that dynamically and continuously computes connectivity solutions to satisfy all workload needs. Plexxi Switches provide standard high-performance, low-latency 10Gb and 40Gbps Ethernet access connections, but interconnect with each other via Plexxi’s high density, high capacity LightRail™ optical interface. The result is a system that directly manifests workload-optimized solutions in the real, physical network, creating a network that delivers to applications what they need, when they need it – every time.


The Plexxi/CALIENT integration is currently in Beta release with general availability planned for Q2 2013.

About Plexxi, Inc.

Plexxi is the creator of the industry’s first affinity-driven networking solution. Plexxi’s products – Plexxi Control and the Plexxi Switch – create an optimized network that dynamically helps applications perform better. The company has raised $48+ million in venture financing from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Matrix Partners and Northbridge Venture Partners. Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., Plexxi also has offices in Nashua, N.H. and San Francisco, Calif. For more information, please visit

About CALIENT Technologies

Headquartered in Santa Barbara, CA, CALIENT Technologies is the global leader in adaptive photonic switching with systems that enable dynamic optical layer optimization in next generation data centers and software defined networks. CALIENT’s 3D MEMS switches have demonstrated years of reliability, with eight years of successful continuous operation. With more than 80,000 optical terminations shipped, CALIENT has one of the largest installed bases of photonic switches worldwide.  For more information visit us at or contact us at

Media contact for CALIENT Technologies:

CALIENT Technologies PR Team

David Rodewald/Lynn Clahassey

+1 805-494-9508

Media contact for Plexxi:

Kristin Parran Faulder

+1 781-966-4126


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David Rodewald/Elisabeth Glover