Cable Tech

Mangrove CEO Goes Gaga Over GFP

Stealthy startup Mangrove Systems Inc. looks to be focusing on a metro-access box that works equally well with Sonet rings, Ethernet, and common storage-area networking protocols, to judge from the contents of a Light Reading Webinar presented by Mangrove CEO Jonathan Reeves.

During his remarks, Reeves plugged standards such as GFP (Generic Framing Procedure), the standard for hauling packet payloads (Internet Protocol (IP), Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and Escon) over Sonet (Synchronous Optical NETwork) and SDH (Synchronous Digital Hierarchy) networks. Together with other accepted standards, metro boxes can now be built using a full set of mappings necessary to carry IP traffic over DWDM systems, he said (see GFP: Good For Positioning).

"What GFP can provide is unification," he says. "GFP is one piece of the puzzle, but we're fascinated by trying to bring the data-over-Sonet world and the [packet-based] Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) world closer together. The reality is, these techniques can work quite closely together."

The Webinar, "GFP Systems: Enabling the Multiservice Edge," will be archived and made available for viewing soon here.

Reeves bootstrapped Mangrove in early 2002, then landed $3.1 million in early seed funding, including some of his own money (see Reeves Seeds Mangrove Systems ). Reeves founded Sahara Networks in 1995, and it was acquired by Cascade Communications about 18 months later. He founded Sirocco Systems in 1999, and it was acquired by Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR) about 18 months later (see Sycamore Takes Over Sirocco ).

But in the current slow telecom environment, Mangrove appears to be taking things a bit more slowly than Reeves's prior startups. Reeves says Mangrove now has about 20 employees and is still living off its original seed funding, though he adds that the company is close to completing another round.

Reeves said carriers are looking for ways to provide data capabilities while fitting into the Sonet infrastructure. "There's also renewed interest in the service provider community on multi-protocol CPE [customer premises equipment] devices; and carriers are looking to control their operations costs by unifying service offerings at the edge, while delivering the services over a common network."

Hmm, might that be Mangrove's target market?

By adding features that address virtual concatenation, LCAS (Link Capacity Adjustment Scheme), and GFP, a potential product might support protocols such as IP and Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) while working in a carrier's existing Sonet infrastructure. The startup might pursue this by offering several products -- for example one metro box for the carrier's point of presence (POP) or central office, and a second box residing at the customer's premises. Inside, the box could have a circuit-switch fabric and a packet-switch fabric, plus the ability to handle interfaces such as Escon and Fiber Channel.

Reeves hinted at this when he said that CPE devices would be the first to take advantage of GFP. He also mentioned "an evolution of [Sonet ADMs] into forms of GFP switches that can provide packet-level multiplexing and switching functions."

In many ways, Mangrove appears to be working on a new, new version of what Reeves's previous company, Sirocco Systems, built. Sirocco's boxes implemented full Sonet but used statistical multiplexing to address Sonet's data handling shortcomings. Thanks to GFP and the other standards Mangrove is likely making use of, large carriers may be more comfortable with Mangrove's offering than they were with Sirocco's.

A potential hangup could come because big carriers are used to getting their standards-based products. "Nortel Networks Corp. [NYSE/Toronto: NT] and Lucent Technologies Inc. [NYSE: LU] invented GFP, so it's a challenge for a startup to come in and say they do it better," according to one industry analyst. "It's not impossible, but it's a challege." — Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
steviescmr 12/5/2012 | 12:37:53 AM
re: Mangrove CEO Goes Gaga Over GFP "Sirocco's boxes implemented full Sonet but used statistical multiplexing to address Sonet's data handling shortcomings."

Not true. The Sirocco box never delivered on the stat muxing capability. We'll see if Mangrove delivers on all that it promises...
shadowandlight 12/5/2012 | 12:37:30 AM
re: Mangrove CEO Goes Gaga Over GFP "[C]arriers are looking to control their operations costs by unifying service offerings at the edge, while delivering the services over a common network."

The last two projects that Reeves has worked on, Kenetec and Sirocco, have been all about pushing the services further and further toward the end user. While Kenetec targeted MTUs and Sirocco practically pioneered the "Optical Edge", Reeves vision has remained the same throughout. I think it will be interesting to see where he takes this.

It's curious that Reeves would do a CPE box at this time. I had heard that Kenetec was working on exactly what Reeves is talking about doing now. A matched pair of boxes, one at the CPE and one at the CO, giving the ability to deliver the services over a common framework. It's curious to me because from what I've heard, Kenetic was close to delivering the second part - the metro access box, just before it was closed down.

Just some food for thought...

stuartb 12/5/2012 | 12:37:27 AM
re: Mangrove CEO Goes Gaga Over GFP is probably the appropriate word to describe the collective yawn caused by Mangrove's emergence.

Did I see someone say that Sirocco practically invented the "Optical Edge". Puh-leze, ever hear of a company called Cerent? Sirocco was a copycat product that never even worked.

Total number of real customers announced for the the SN3000 product = 0.
shadowandlight 12/5/2012 | 12:37:06 AM
re: Mangrove CEO Goes Gaga Over GFP While I can't disagree with your first statement, I can't possibly agree with your last.

I guess it depends on your definition of "never worked" and "real customers announced", but I have seen the SN3000 in working networks and their first customer is listed here:


Or maybe NTT is a better customer to talk about


Regardless, it has been and continues to be a successful product. Otherwise, they wouldn't be keeping some Sirocco people on staff.


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