Microsoft Invests in Undersea Cables To Support Cloud Services
Being a "cloud-first, mobile-first" company means Microsoft must handle the massive and growing amounts of data such services require. That's why the company has been investing "significantly" in new fiber capacity across both land and sea.
Microsoft announced Monday that it had signed on as the first foundation customer for the America Europe Connect (AEConnect) subsea cable being laid across the Atlantic by Aqua Comms Limited and TE SubCom. Scheduled to go into service in December, the 5,400-kilometer-long fiber optic cable connecting Shirley, New York, and Killala, Ireland, will provide low-latency, 100-Gbps connectivity for Microsoft and other Internet service providers.
Redmond is also adding more long-haul fiber capacity for its data centers in a partnership with Hibernia Networks in Ireland, and has joined a consortium to build the New Cross Pacific Cable Network (pictured) between North America and Asia.
Not Enough Subsea Capacity for 100 Gbps
"As people and organizations expect data and information at their fingertips, Microsoft must have an infrastructure that can deliver the cloud services, including Azure, which our customers need to support their global businesses," Network Enablement Managing Director David Crowley said in a Microsoft Azure blog post. With the company's rapid growth in cloud services, "we need a strong subsea strategy to ensure our customers experience high availability access to their data," he said.
Microsoft has made significant investments over the past nine months to expand both its terrestrial and subsea dark fiber capacity, Crowley noted. The new partner projects announced Monday will make the company's connections across both the Atlantic and the Pacific even stronger, he added.
"Out of approximately 230 subsea cables across the globe, very few are currently equipped to fully support coherent technology with 100-Gbps capabilities," Crowley said in a statement released with the AEConnect announcement. "With bandwidth-hungry applications on the rise, we want to ensure our customers are getting the capacity across the Atlantic that they need. AEConnect aids in future-proofing our transatlantic capacity requirements, connecting directly to our operations in Ireland and onward into Europe to support our expanding data network capacity needs."
Data Volume Doubling Every Two Years
Data is doubling in volume every two years, according to a report last year from the IT-as-a-service company EMC and the analyst firm IDC. By 2020, the world will be generating and processing 44 zettabytes -- which is 44 trillion gigabytes -- worth of data every year.
According to Hibernia Networks, the new Hibernia Express fiber optic cable it is laying between Nova Scotia and Brean in the U.K. will provide the fastest network route available across the Atlantic, reducing existing cable system latency by at least 5 milliseconds. The cable is expected to go into service in September.
Meanwhile, the consortium Microsoft has joined for cross-Pacific networking is laying a 13,000-plus-kilometer cable between Hillsboro, Oregon, and multiple endpoints in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and the Chinese mainland. Construction on that cable line has just started, with service is scheduled to begin in late 2017.