About the customer

DE-CIX provides premium network interconnection services at 29 locations across Europe, the Middle East, North America, and Asia. Founded in 1995, DE-CIX is home to the world’s largest carrier and data center neutral interconnection ecosystem. Its Frankfurt Internet Exchange, comprising 37 data centers and over 1,100 networks, sees more than 10 Terabits of traffic per second during peak times.

Industry: Internet Exchange 
Location: Frankfurt, Germany
Solution: Open line systems

The challenge

The promise of 400G to meet growing customer demand

DE-CIX has been rapidly expanding to new locations and seeing traffic grow by as much as about 30% per year at its exchanges. During the 2020 pandemic lockdowns, traffic suddenly increased at an even faster rate. This growing customer demand prompted the internet exchange provider to take a serious look at 400G.

DE-CIX CTO Dr. Thomas King explains why 400G is the key to staying ahead of traffic growth and customer expectations: “Our largest customers are already asking for 400G, and we see massive growth potential in this area. This technology is extremely exciting on many levels, allowing us to create an entirely new experience for customers with simpler and faster service provisioning. We needed to be able to turn up additional capacity quickly and efficiently and we knew 400G was the answer.”


“Smartoptics is our preferred DWDM vendor because they go above and beyond the call of duty to meet our stringent requirements. They provide excellent service, advice and support to go with their top-of-the line 400G-ready open line systems and optics.”

Dr. Thomas King, CTO, DE-CIX

The Solution

Easy-to-use open line systems from Smartoptics deliver 400G

When a new potentially game-changing technology like 400G comes along, DE-CIX conducts an extensive vendor review. In this case, the Internet Exchange provider was looking for a DWDM vendor with excellent stability and quality to match DE-CIX’s own high standards for services provided to its customers.

“As a long-standing key advocate for open line systems and a recent 400G pioneer, Smartoptics emerged as the clear-cut winner, who met our requirements best. One of the greatest differentiators is that Smartoptics products are so easy to use – it’s basically plug and play. This won them extra points in our selection process, and we were, and remain to this day, confident that we made the right choice,” Dr. King explains.

Increased fiber utilization with 100G aggregation into 400G DWDM

Given the large number of customer interconnections within the internet exchange’s data centers, cost-efficient use of fiber is a decisive factor. With the Smartoptics DCP-404 muxponder paired with 400G transceivers, DE-CIX found a solution to greatly increase fiber utilization. The muxponder can run four 100G links over 400G, using only one fiber instead of four, in a compact and efficient form factor. By simply adding more DCP-404s into a single rack unit, it is even possible to expand capacity by up to a factor of eight.

“We were impressed with the short lead times for both the muxponder and the transceivers to our data center locations across multiple continents. We were also pleasantly surprised by how small and efficient the DCP-404 is while offering low latency. The solution delivers more capacity per wavelength, maximizing what we get out of each fiber. This allows us to significantly cut our cross connect lease expenses and make our commercial offering even more competitive,” says Dr. King.

The Result

A fully redundant, cost-effective and future-proof network architecture

DE-CIX evaluated the two paths available for 400G network architectures: ROADM and point to point (P2P), both supported by Smartoptics. DE-CIX opted to go the P2P route, directly connecting all core and edge routers in the four core hubs of its backbone network. This fully meshed router setup enables them to ensure full redundancy and maximum capacity.

Since this new type of network for 400G – based on the Smartoptics open line system – requires fewer infrastructure components that are essentially plug and play, it will allow DE-CIX to simplify both its network architecture and operations. This results in cost savings on both the CAPEX and OPEX side. Initially, the Smartoptics open line systems were implemented on DE-CIX’s Frankfurt backbone network to provide 400G, with other locations to follow.

“The massive implementation project in Frankfurt is progressing very smoothly. We’re really impressed with how well it works so far, and we appreciate how future-proof the solution is. Smartoptics is highly professional, agile, and quick to respond to our needs. We look forward to continuing to work with them far into the future as we roll out high-speed DWDM to more locations,” says Dr. King.

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