Cisco unveils metro optical system

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.

For protection, the ONS 15540 features three options that give the system greater than 99.999% availability, Cisco claims. For management, the system offers another dedicated lambda, called the Optical Supervisory Channel, which provides performance monitoring and troubleshooting for each fiber. In a later release, the ONS 15540 will provide per-lambda management end-to-end, Cisco says.

The ONS 15540 can also be managed from CiscoView, a Web-based version of Cisco's graphical device management application. Service providers will be able to manage the system from the Cisco Transport Manager application, which manages the rest of Cisco's ONS optical portfolio.

The ONS 15540 adds high-density storage and data network integration to Cisco's ONS metropolitan optical network line.

Cisco is also working on a line of new optical platforms for provisioning 10/100 Ethernet services and configuring Resilient Packet Ring (RPR) architectures, says Carl Engineer, a Cisco marketing director. The RPR products, which would support the emerging IEEE 802.17 standard for optimizing metropolitan optical bandwidth for IP and Ethernet, could emerge this year, Engineer says.

Meanwhile, the ONS 15540 is being certified to interoperate with high-availability storage systems from EMC and IBM. Cisco is also working with AT&T Solutions to qualify the ONS 15540 for deployment in the services firm's Ultravailable Solutions offering for storage-area and broadband networks. Cisco also is working with Metromedia Fiber Network to qualify the ONS 15540 for deployment in MFN networks.

Additionally, Cisco is certifying the ONS 15540 for interoperability with 10G bit/sec-capable versions of its 12000 GSR and 7600 OSR routers, and Catalyst 6500 switches.

The ONS 15540 is expected to be available in June. The list price of a base system starts at $67,000, excluding $20,000 transponders and $30,000 four-channel optical add/drop multiplexers.

Cisco is targeting November for a second release of the ONS 15540 that will support 10G bit/sec wavelengths, crossbar switching up to 640G bit/sec, and perhaps sublambda muxing of different services onto a single lambda.

This story, "Cisco unveils metro optical system" was originally published by Network World.

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