Ciena Packs New 10-Gig Punch

Two new switches put more 10-gig power into a much smaller package to help service providers lower the price for more bandwidth.

October 1, 2013

3 Min Read
Ciena Packs New 10-Gig Punch

Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) announced a major repackaging Monday of 10-Gigabit Ethernet capabilities into a pizza box form factor, featuring reduced power needs and environmental hardening for widespread deployment in delivering services or aggregating metro bandwidth.

(How important an announcement is this? Important enough to warrant the re-appearance of Lightworks Lou who was last seen in 2006 in this exclusive interview. But don't blink, Lou's cameo is brief. )

The 5160 and 5142 Service Aggregation Switches are aimed at making it more economical for service providers to offer 10-Gig Ethernet services, a rapidly growing category of Ethernet today, says Mike Adams, VP of Product & Technical Marketing at Ciena. The new boxes also target the internal bandwidth needs of large enterprises in datacenters, and they are designed for outdoor deployment so service providers can push more bandwidth closer to their customers and use these switches as aggregation points.

The Ciena 5160 Service Aggregation Switch offers 24 ports of 10-Gig Ethernet, while the 5142 delivers four ports of 10GbE and 20 ports of 1GbE for delivering 1-GigE to 10-GigE services. Ciena is promising all the same Service Level Agreement (SLA) capabilities and Operations, Administration and Maintenance (OAM) support it has for its larger boxes, including remote testing, one-touch provisioning.

"When you think about pushing all this bandwidth out further in the network, the last thing they want to do is create an operational nightmare," says John Hawkins, senior advisor of Technical Marketing, Ciena.

Some of the earliest applications will include aggregation of mobile backhaul traffic and metro fiber rings. But the new aggregation switches pave the way for service providers to price their 10 GigE services more aggressively to make them more affordable for a broader range of customers.

"We're seeing 10 Gig-E as the new 1-Gig," says Adams. "We think with the economics of these boxes, they can absolutely choose to be more aggressive in how they price to compete."

Greg Sunderwood, VP of Engineering for Ritter Communications, a wholesale service provider based in Arkansas, says his company is seeing an uptick in 10-GigE demand. He says Ritter is using the Ciena boxes to create a new market for itself going into under-served areas with much greater bandwidth.

"We have a bunch of mobile backhaul but most of demand was to aggregate wholesale backhaul and also do wholesale Internet and wholesale transport," Sunderwood says. "We are finding a lot of pent-up demand in smaller markets in Arkansas and Tennessee where we've got ISPs and cable companies that are in desperate need of cost-effective bandwidth for Internet traffic. This is a great opportunity for us."

Sunderwood says his company standardized on Ciena packet-optical gear about a year ago, in part because Ritter saw these two products in the pipeline and was looking for more cost-effective ways to deliver more bandwidth throughout its service territory. By deploying pairs of 5160s in core network locations such as Central Offices, Ritter has been able to have carrier-grade redundancy with dual homing for fiber-optic rings while achieving the same throughput as a much more expensive 10 Gig core switch, he says.

Creating a Layer 2 Carrier Ethernet core network also lets Ritter avoid deployment of more expensive MPLS routers, except where they are needed. "We switch where we can and route where we must," he says.

Why this matters
As Carrier Ethernet is widely deployed, service providers are looking for ways to differentiate their services and compete cost-effectively on price and service, and less expensive ways of delivering the same quality of service. Greater bandwidth is one means of meeting those goals.

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— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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