Atoga Tunes Out the Competition

Atoga's use of tunable lasers could set it apart from the rest of the pack

January 15, 2001

3 Min Read
Atoga  Tunes Out the Competition

Atoga Systems has one-upped its competition.

The company announced its Optical Application Router 5 (OAR 5) today, which uses tunable lasers to enable on-demand bandwidth provisioning. In other words, it can scale bandwidth up and down, on the fly, by controlling the lasers with software.

The OAR 5 architecture, detailed in a previous Light Reading article, combines Sonet add/drop multiplexing, IP routing, and WDM functionality into one device (see A Sneak Peek Into Atoga).

Three-in-one boxes are nothing new in the metropolitan network market. Companies like Alidian Networks Inc., Coriolis Networks Inc., Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) (through its Chromatis acquisition), and Ocular Networks Inc. all claim to offer this capability. Other products called optical packet nodes (OPNs) from vendors like Village Networks Inc. also combine IP routing with optical switching (see Village Unveils "Optical Packet Node").

But unlike the rest of these companies, Atoga uses tunable lasers.

“They’re the first to announce this capability to move wavelengths around using software rather than through hardware, and right now it looks like they are ahead of the pack,” says Michael Kennedy, a managing partner with Network Strategy Partners LLC. “It represents the next phase of development for these kinds of devices. But I’d have to say they won’t be front-runners for too long. Others are already talking about using tunable lasers.”

The benefit of using tunable lasers is that entire wavelengths can be added and assigned remotely without any hardware modifications. This differs from other systems, which use fixed lasers and require hardware to be changed manually anytime wavelengths are added to a system to provide more capacity. Being able to make these changes through software offers a big cost savings.

How big? Software provisioned wavelengths coupled with the consolidation of IP routing, Sonet add/drop multiplexing, and WDM could help reduce operational costs as much as 80 percent, according to Kennedy.

But the inclusion of tunable lasers in this product does more than just save service providers money, claims P.G. Menon, VP of marketing for Atoga. It can help them make money, too.

“The OAR 5 not only identifies traffic flows, but it allows providers to police traffic,” says Menon. “This gives them the opportunity to offer new services and generate revenue.”

The device identifies and classifies traffic flows and applies policies using lightweight directory access protocol (LDAP). The IP layer and the WDM portion of the product communicate so that the lasers can turn up additional wavelengths on demand.

In the first release, the product will offer up to 40 channels or 100 Gbit/s of capacity per fiber. This is expected to increase to systems that can support 80 to 160 channels by the end of the year for 400 Gbit/s worth of capacity on a single fiber.

While this may sound great on paper, there is actually no proof that any of it works. The company claims that the product is already in beta tests with “several service providers," but it won’t release the names of those providers. And the product won’t be generally available until March 2001.

-- Marguerite Reardon, senior editor, Light Reading,

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