Storage and bandwidth services company launched

By Heather Harreld, InfoWorld |  Networking

A NEW OPTICAL networking company with a product designed to offer enterprise customers high-speed storage and bandwidth on demand for less than half today's going rate is entering the increasing crowded optical market

Armed with $17 million in first round venture capital and a management team of former executives from Nortel and Alcatel, Ottawa, Ontario-based Akara Monday announced plans to offer service providers access to optical bandwidth for 50 to 75 percent less than today's costs. For enterprise customers, this will mean the availability of optical bandwidth on demand for new applications like high-speed storage and video on demand, said Ed Ogonek, president and CEO of the new concern.

"What we're providing is a technology ...that allows you to better utilize the fiber infrastructure that you take out to a metro and the enterprise customer," he said. "We're focusing first on a technology that will better tie together multi-gigabit Ethernet ports onto a single fiber."

While other companies have focused on building up the optical network metro, core and backbone, creating large amounts of optical bandwidth in the network core, Akara will be focusing its efforts on providing efficient and less costly access to that core bandwidth, Ogonek said. As a result, large enterprise customers now buying multiple fiber links to deliver different high-speed services can consolidate those fiber channel circuits on a single fiber, he said.

Chris Nicholl, senior analyst at Current Analysis Inc. in Sterling, Va., said that because the optical networking market is so competitive, Akara's success will depend on its ability to carve out a clearly defined market niche.

"The issues on the access side are how can you cost-effectively provide access to not just the next generation of services but the legacy services such a way that when the next generation of services are available you've got the infrastructure," he said.

But Tom Nolle, president of CIMI, a consultancy in Voorhees, N.J., said that his company has calculated that there are fewer than 1,000 company locations in the U.S. that can justify multiple optical feeds. In fact, companies usually can't justify multiple optical links unless they have 7,000 or more employees located at a site, he said.

"The bandwidth of the core ...will be unlocked by one and only one thing, and that's DSL ...because DSL can be made accessible to tens of millions of people," Nolle said. "Fiber is not going to serve a population of billions."

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