A Clear View of DWDM
The move seems small, but it may be significant. While optical networking vendors offer plenty of software for managing their own equipment, there's little choice offered to carriers who want to manage a range of different vendors' devices from one management system. Generally, carriers are forced to create their own solutions, via lengthy and expensive (as in "multiple millions of dollars") projects with integrators or firms like Telcordia Technologies Inc.
Clear, a 12-year-old, privately held software company, thinks carriers want an alternative. Its offering, Clearview, monitors a range of broadband devices out of the box, including Sonet/SDH gear, CSU/DSUs, and digital crossconnects from Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Fujitsu Ltd. (KLS: FUJI.KL), Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), NEC Corp. (Nasdaq: NIPNY), and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT).
Now, Clear's added DWDM gear to the pack. With this release, Clearview 7.0 adds Ciena's CoreDirector and Cisco's ONS 15454 boxes to its roster of managed wares. Clearview also takes input from Ciena's Multiwave and Sentry DWDM gear and from DWDM management systems from Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERICY).
According to the vendor, Clearview now can track DWDM channels in real time, reporting on their status for hands-on net management or for use in enforcing service-level agreements (SLAs). The information is integrated in a single system with data from all the other devices Clearview monitors.
Three customers are deploying Clearview 7.0's DWDM capabilities, but their identities can't be revealed, Clear says.
This isn't actually Clear's first foray into managing DWDM. Ciena OEM's Clearview for use in its Coredirector Services Management Suite software. Clear's also got an OEM deal with Digital Lightwave Inc. (Nasdaq: DIGL) and a development agreement with Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK). Today's announcement extends the performance monitoring and fault reporting capabilities of these products to a multivendor platform that also handles a range of other kit.
On the downside, Clearview is strictly a performance/fault management tool. Although Clearview can be easily integrated with configuration and provisioning systems, it can't perform those functions in a multivendor network. And configuration and provisioning are increasingly vital functions for carriers to have.
Questions also remain about how quickly Clear can add vendors to Clearview's roster. The products Clear now supports have been on the market for months, even years -- a delay that speaks to the problems faced by independent software vendors seeking to get optical networking suppliers to give up the secrets required to effectively monitor their gear. It's not likely the path will become any easier, either. For many years, the enterprise network management space was a battlefield in which customers' requests for multivendor support fell on deaf ears.
Clear seems determined that this scenario won't be repeated in the optical space. Indeed, in January 2001, the vendor adopted a new "charter" to manage multivendor optical nets, and in April the firm took $20 million in fresh venture capital to support the cause.
- Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading