Aura radiates low-cost optical access

NASHUA, N.H. -- Aura Networks last week rolled out its entry into the metropolitan-area optical Ethernet networking market.

The company unveiled its Radiance Optical Ethernet System, which aims to let service providers cost-effectively provision Ethernet services in an optical metropolitan-area network. Radiance is designed to provide 1M bit/sec to 1G bit/sec Ethernet access from the customer premises to the central office/point of presence.

Radiance features an Aura-developed technology called Stealth IP, which uses an interframe coding technique to enable network management capabilities such as loopback testing, and power and bit error rate monitoring. These features allow cost-effective deployment, Aura claims, because they let service providers proactively monitor service integrity and intercept potential failures or outages.

The first products introduced in the Radiance family are the R5000 Central Service Platform, the R1000 Premise Service Platform, and the NetBeacon Element and Service Provisioning Management System. The R5000 fits in a 23-inch or 19-inch telephone company rack. Its 16-slot chassis houses up to 16 dual-port Service Line Cards or fiber connectivity modules.

The Service Line Cards sport one copper and one fiber 100M bit/sec Ethernet link, and provide the Stealth IP monitoring capability. The fiber connectivity modules provide basic connectivity at 10M, 100M and 1G bit/sec Ethernet, and OC-3 and OC-12 packet-over-SONET speeds over a range of distances.

The R1000 sits at the customer premises. It houses one Service Line Card and one management module, or two Service Line Cards.

NetBeacon is a hardware/software system that includes management modules for the R5000 and R1000 that monitor link activity, and a Windows or Unix application for presenting that data.

Analysts view these capabilities as positive, but because the Radiance system is neither a switch nor a router, the product's appeal will be limited.

"While the value of the performance monitoring and link-status information is real, and the ability to integrate it with [service-level agreement] and billing functionality a positive, the lack of switching or routing functionality in the box may make the technology most suitable as either a stopgap measure for increasing the manageability of legacy networks or as a potential candidate for licensing and inclusion in the products of switch/routing access platform vendors," market tracker Current Analysis says in a recent report.

The R5000 and NetBeacon are currently shipping, while the R1000 will ship next month. Pricing starts at $3,499 for the R5000, $1,129 for the R1000, and $299 to $909 for NetBeacon.

This story, "Aura radiates low-cost optical access" was originally published by NetworkWorld.

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