Light Reading

Gray-Market Optics Get a Brand Name

Craig Matsumoto
News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto

Curvature announced Tuesday that it's now selling its own line of optics compatible with equipment from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and others.

The company is showing off the modules -- pluggable optical transceivers in form factors such as SFP and XFP -- at Interop in New York this week.

Why this matters
Cisco charges a premium for optical modules that, from a hardware perspective, are quite ordinary, purchased from module makers such as Finisar Corp. (Nasdaq: FNSR) and Oclaro Inc. (Nasdaq: OCLR). NHR had already been offering an alternative by buying the same modules and tweaking the software to be Cisco-compatible.

Now, NHR is out guns-blazing with modules under its own name. And although we're picking on Cisco here, NHR notes the modules also work in gear from other vendors, including Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL) (Force10), Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR). NHR claims its prices run 70 to 90 percent lower than the OEMs'.

In March, NHR struck a deal with independent module vendor Menara Networks . It seems likely that Menara, which was founded with the goal of building 10Gbit/s modules supporting Optical Transport Network (OTN), could be the foundation for any higher-end devices NHR is offering.

For more

— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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Pete Baldwin
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:19:54 PM
re: Gray-Market Optics Get a Brand Name

Checked with NHR, and none of the branded modules being offered so far is a Menara one.

The list of form factors includes a few that Menara wouldn't touch anyway (X2, Xenpak, GBIC). 

User Rank: Moderator
12/5/2012 | 5:19:49 PM
re: Gray-Market Optics Get a Brand Name

All I can say is "caveat emptor". All optical modules are *not* created equal.

Very few people realize that there is a microprocessor in each of those, which means there is software ("firmware") running in them.  As we all know, all software has bugs.  (Anyone who claims their software is bug-free is clueless or lying.)  There is no off-the-shelf implementation of this software (open-source or closed-source).  Every optics vendor rolls their own.

So even though "all optics follow 'The Standard'", they're not all the same.

Oh, and there is no independent body or testing organization that actually certifies whether a given vendor's optic complies with "The Standard".  It is up to each optics vendor to state whether they conform or not. Can you imagine *anyone* saying "well, we're close, but not quite 100% compliant."?

Mike Sheldon
Mike Sheldon,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:19:31 PM
re: Gray-Market Optics Get a Brand Name

All NHR branded optics are MSA compliant and correspond to published standards for optical power, receive sensitivity and other physical characteristics.



The optics we sell as “Cisco compatible” are tested in a wide range of Cisco products for compatibility and interoperability.  The same can be said for the other “OEM compatible” optics we carry.  We guarantee our optics with a lifetime warranty and our customers can be assured that our testing procedures are best-in-class and adhere to TL9000 and ISO9001 standards.

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