Dark Fiber – Affordable, Limitless Network Transport
As a data center operator, one of our major costs in addition to the typical things business face (payroll, lease/rent/mortgage, health insurance) are our transport and transit costs. Put simply, transport costs are the fees that we incur to connect to a network provider. Transit costs are the fees we pay to reach the Internet via a particular network provider. At the moment, we get transport from AboveNet/Zayo and twtelecom. We obtain transit from Level(3), Hurricane Electric, Telia, TiNet and twtelecom.
In the transport world, there are generally two broad types of services – ‘lit’ and unlit service. If you buy a ‘lit’ service, it’s the providers responsibility to give you a live feed at point A and point Z based on a particular data rate. For example, we might order a 1Gbps circuit on twtelecom between our data center and another data center in Denver. In this example, twtelecom needs to give the equipment that can send the data from our data center to this other data center. If we order an ‘unlit’ service, we are handed a pair (or more) of ‘dark fiber’. Using a single pair of fibers, we can cost effectively transit up to 80 disparate data streams over a single pair of fiber. Instead of being limited at 1Gbps, we can now send up to 800Gbps or more of traffic over a single pair of fiber. However, it is now our responsibility to buy the necessary equipment to transport the optical signal between the different nodes on our network. The good news is that doing so is easier than it sounds — in fact, we have used dark fiber transport in our network for the past two years with 100% uptime.
For our customers, the best news of all is that we are moving towards using dark fiber exclusively for transport needs. As a result, you can expect to see us turn up 10Gbps ports to our IP Transit providers by the end of 2012. These upgrades will give us with ample network capacity for many years to come.