Start-up builds bridge to the future

A start-up company believes it has a better way to upgrade service-provider networks to next-generation technologies.

WaveSmith Networks is focusing on the installed base of multiservice ATM and frame relay switches, which heretofore have been largely ignored by other vendors pitching optical infrastructures for advanced IP service provisioning. Multiservice switching is the "pass through" point for access, service and peering networks, and IP and ATM optical core networks.

It's also an area dominated by Lucent's Cascade switches, Nortel Networks' Passport, Alcatel's Newbridge and Cisco's StrataCom and MGX platforms. Therein lies WaveSmith's challenge, which is virtually the same one faced by any start-up.

Upgrading networks to deliver new services is a capital-intensive undertaking. That's why WaveSmith is concentrating on supporting current services while gradually migrating infrastructures to deliver new services and new revenues.

WaveSmith is developing a multiservice switch designed to enable carriers to enhance existing services while changing their infrastructures to support next-generation services. The switch will have four key attributes that WaveSmith says will differentiate it from other ATM and frame relay multiservice switches and new optical switches that ignore or do not support legacy services.

The first attribute is a so-called Open Call Model. Open Call Model is essentially a single control plane to manage connection setup of ATM, TDM, frame relay and IP circuits and services for voice and data.

Open Call Model uses the Media Gateway Control Protocol (MGCP), which is used by softswitches to control Signaling System 7 systems in the telephone network.

The second attribute is scale. The WaveSmith switch features a "Distributed Optical Backplane" that scales up to 320G bit/sec and "hundreds" of ports, ranging from DS-3 to OC-48. The switch also features a "High Speed Serial Core" switch fabric that supports ATM, TDM, frame relay and IP traffic, optical wavelengths, as well as third-party service subscriber management, VPN tunneling and content caching technologies.

The third attribute is reliability. The company's operating system runs all software processes in protected memory. The operating system's microkernel architecture enables any process to be upgraded or repaired independently of the others while the switch continues to run, WaveSmith says.

The last attribute is form factor. The WaveSmith switch features 7.6G bit/sec of capacity per vertical inch of rack space, a 600% capacity-to-footprint improvement over legacy products from the incumbent vendors, the company claims.

The switch will enter beta in June and will ship in December. Pricing will be announced at that time.

This story, "Start-up builds bridge to the future" was originally published by Network World.

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