Cisco (Re)Launches SDH Push

Says it's now serious about selling SDH multiservice provisioning platforms to European carriers

March 13, 2003

3 Min Read
Cisco (Re)Launches SDH Push

HANNOVER, Germany –- CeBIT 2003 –- Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is making a more concerted effort to break into the European SDH equipment market -- a goal that is reflected in its product announcements at CeBIT today (see Cisco Boosts Multiservice Platform ).

The products aim to help Cisco repeat the ploy it’s used in North America to get into the Sonet market. In essence, this means convincing carriers that it can help them integrate the data and transmission sides of their businesses in a way that will deliver revenue-generating opportunities in the future.

The products themselves include two new SDH multiservice access devices -- the ONS 15302 and ONS 15305 -- plus a software upgrade of the SDH version of the ONS 15454, the Sonet multiservice provisioning platform that came with Cisco's acquisition of Cerent.

Having a spot of déjà vu? Cisco originally announced the SDH version of the Cerent box last June (see Cisco Sees Euros in SDH ). But Jeff Santos, Cisco’s general manager of its optical technology group, now acknowledges that it wasn’t exactly fully fledged, addressing only about 20 percent of the potential market for SDH multiservice provisioning platforms. But he claims the software upgrade will bump that up to 85 percent.

The ONS 15302 is designed for use at customer sites, where connections as fast as STM1 (155 Mbit/s) are required. The ONS 15305 is a bigger animal, supporting transmission speeds up to STM16 (2.5 Gbit/s), which can be used at big customer sites or in carrier networks for aggregating traffic before it hits the Cerent box.

Santos adds that Cisco’s ONS 15600, which aggregates traffic from Cerent boxes, is “SDH ready.” It won’t be needed until carriers have installed significant numbers of Euro-Cerent boxes, so it’s something that’s included in future planning discussions with carriers, even though the SDH software for it hasn’t been released.

Santos says Cisco has already conducted studies of how to use these boxes to integrate data and transmission networks with 10 major carriers -- five in North America and five in Europe. He says the top management of carriers realize that they have to find a way of doing this, which involves bringing together different cultures that are often at loggerheads -- “the Ponytails versus the Pocket-Protectors,” as Santos colorfully puts it.

The Ponytails are usually Cisco-committed customers, while the Pocket-Protectors take a lot of convincing to move away from their traditional suppliers, like Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Fujitsu Ltd. (KLS: FUJI.KL), Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT).Santos asserts that Cisco has been very successful in convincing North American carriers to install its Cerent boxes at the edges of their Sonet infrastructures, so they can widen the range of services they can offer customers without building extra networks (see Was Cerent Worth It?). He now expects (or hopes) to repeat the success in Europe.

The success of Cisco in the North American Sonet market is challenged by Mervyn Kelly, leader, EMEA optical product management at Nortel. He says the Cerent box hasn’t made a significant dent in the overall Sonet equipment market in North America. At the time of speaking, Kelly hadn’t seen Cisco’s product announcement but doubted whether it would carry much weight with Europe’s Pocket-Protectors.

— Peter Heywood, Founding Editor, Light Reading

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