Cisco unveils metro optical system

By Jim Duffy, Network World |  Networking

Cisco last week broadened its metropolitan optical portfolio with a new dense wavelength division multiplexing platform designed for high-speed integrated transport of storage and data network applications.

The ONS 15540 Extended Services Platform is designed for enterprise and service provider networks. Companies demand high-capacity storage networking and cost-effective extension of Gigabit Ethernet traffic into the metropolitan area, Cisco says. Service providers require rapid provisioning of new services over wavelengths for greater revenue per optical fiber, and service-level agreement guarantees on those services.

Those demands from two markets are helping fuel growth in the metropolitan optical storage and data transport arena. The market is expected to grow to $3.6 billion by 2004 from less than $500 million this year, according to RHK.

However, with service provider and enterprise IT spending down, that number seems almost unreachable. And as Cisco prepares to lay off 8,500 employees due to a lack of customer spending, unveiling a new product might seem irrelevant.

But life goes on, analysts say.

"It's a tough time to launch a new product, but anyone who wants to stay in business needs to launch new products and continue to grow the product line," says Anna Reidy, senior analyst at RHK.

Cisco's ONS 15540 will go up against Nortel Network's OPTera Metro 5200 and ONI Systems' Online 7000 and 9000 platforms. The ONS 15540 is a 12-slot Network Equipment Building Standards-3 compliant, rack-mountable chassis. The initial release supports up to 32 protected wavelengths per fiber pair, operating at speeds from 16M bit/sec to 2.5G bit/sec. Spacing between wavelengths is an International Telecommunications Union-compliant 100 GHz, letting all 32 wavelengths reside in the C-band of an optical fiber, Cisco says.

The ONS 15540 supports a variety of network and storage protocols, including Gigabit Ethernet, Enterprise Systems Connection, FICON, Fibre Channel and SONET, all initially running in transparent mode. Later releases will be able to support these services in switched mode, in which a wavelength can be packed with as much traffic of the same type as possible.

The system can be configured to operate in point-to-point, hub-ring and mesh-ring networks. Optical add/drop multiplexing modules are optional for users looking to add or drop multiples of four, eight or 16 lambdas at a time.

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