Start-up readies IP-optical router

EATONTOWN, N.J. -- Upstart Village Networks is about to launch a combination IP-optical router that sorts IP traffic at optical speeds and sends it across metropolitan and regional fiber networks for what the company claims will be one-tenth the cost of traditional methods.

Later this year, Village will announce its optical packet node, a device that will enable the control of IP flows across IP and optical networks.

While keeping much of its technology secret, the 2-year-old start-up founded by the former head of Bell Labs broadband research is revealing some plans.

The node will take in IP traffic, classify it and drop it on an optical network at speeds up to OC-192 (9.95G bit/sec). The Village technology will be able to give priority to traffic, IP flow by IP flow. And it will be able to provision new services across a network for individual customers in seconds.

Village achieves this through a combination of efficient use of optical bandwidth, near instantaneous rerouting of traffic around fiber failures and streamlining packet processing.

The implication for companies is that carriers will be able to offer IP services that support guaranteed service quality for individual applications, says Tom Nolle, president of CIMI Corp., a technology assessment firm in Voorhees, N.J.

The Village team toiled for two years without venture capital, during which time it designed and built an enterprise Gigabit Ethernet switch. But the company realized it needed more money if it wanted to build its IP-optical node, says Kai Eng, company founder, president and CEO.

A key to the Village technology is how it processes IP packets at light speed, and that is where Eng is most silent.

"We are filing patents one per month. There is one algorithm we chose not to patent and chose to use trade-secret protection. That is the light-speed algorithm," Eng says.

From what Eng does say it seems that the company may be using a simplified routing process, Nolle says. Because the optical network is so reliable and self-healing, the routing engine of the IP-optical node need not maintain multiple routing policies to respond to congestion or failure in network links, he adds. That could be an element of how the routing is accelerated.

This story, "Start-up readies IP-optical router" was originally published by Network World.

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