Redback offering aims to reduce 'time to service'

Redback Networks last week unveiled a low-end version of its metropolitan optical access platform designed to let service providers extend services downward into multitenant buildings and other metropolitan edge environments.

The SmartEdge 100 is a scaled-down version of Redback's SmartEdge 800, an optical provisioning platform for the metropolitan core that resulted from Redback's $4.3 billion acquisition of Siara in late 1999. The SE 800 is designed to help service providers reduce the "time-to-service" interval of SONET networks.

The SE 100 is based on the same ASIC technology as the SE 800 and can interoperate with the higher-end product, according to Redback. It supports time-division multiplexing and packet technology for the provisioning of existing TDM and newer IP-based services.

The SE 100 is an eight-slot chassis that is three rack-units high. The chassis houses cross-connect and control modules, an alarm card for system management and an array of universal service cards.

The universal service cards support DS-1/ E-1, DS-3/E-3, 10/100M bit/sec Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, and OC-3, OC-12 and OC-48 packet-over-SONET interfaces. Individual cards sport three OC-48 ports, six OC-12s, 12 OC-3s, 12 DS-3s, 21 DS-1s or 48 10/100M bit/sec Ethernet interfaces.

Competitive offerings support only one OC-48 or OC-12, three DS-3s or eight 10/100M bit/sec Ethernet per card, Redback says. They are also eight rack-units high, a situation that may discourage space-constrained service providers.

Redback acknowledges that some competitive offerings, such as those from Cisco, Lucent and Nortel, sport seven more DS-1s per card than the SE 100.

Other features of the SE 100 include "carrier-class" redundancy and programmable ASICs that can dynamically select TDM or packet services, Redback says.

"A single physical port can even furnish both TDM and IP termination simultaneously through channelization," market tracker Current Analysis wrote in a report. "These capabilities allow the SmartEdge to collapse the functionality of multiple network elements, including SONET add/drop multiplexers and cross-connects, into a single integrated platform."

Nonetheless, Redback faces formidable competition in the crowded optical access market from established players such as Cisco, Nortel and Lucent, and a host of aggressive start-ups, Current Analysis said. This, coupled with the lack of product-line breadth in core routing, optical core and voice, will make market penetration a challenge for Redback, the firm said.

Currently in beta testing, pricing for the SE 100 was not disclosed by press time.

This story, "Redback offering aims to reduce 'time to service'" was originally published by Network World.

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