Alcatel Consolidates Metro Core
The Alcatel 1678 Metro Core Connect is modular in design, enabling carriers to combine the functions of digital crossconnects, add/drop multiplexers, and Ethernet switches in the same chassis. At present, each of these devices would be a separate box, and in many central offices, there's now rack upon rack of such boxes.
Alcatel's new product aims to replace a lot of this. It boasts incredible density -- 640 Gbit/s in a single 300 millimeter deep shelf according to Alcatel -- a figure so énorme as to be considered "a little fishy" by one analyst, who asked not to be identified.
Alcatel's PowerPoint presentation of its product shows the 1678 connecting "32 10 Gbit/s rings on 1 subrack", which would give it the same density as the Cisco 15600 from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). It would make it double the density of the product with which it bears the closest resemblance, the Optical Multiservice Edge (OME) 6500 from Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT). (See Nortel Gets Edgy.)
It's also worth pointing out that the grooming switches from the likes of Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) have similar capacities to Alcatel's 1678. However, their initial costs are too high to address this market, according to Scott Clavenna, Chief Analyst of Heavy Reading, Light Reading's paid research service. "Multiservice provisioning platforms are designed to be much more modular," he says.
Another key point about the Alcatel 1678 is that it's got a Generalized MPLS (GMPLS) control plane, facilitating the automation of provisioning and automated protection switching. Carriers can make use of GMPLS in the 1678 because Alcatel has already implemented it in its network management system, according to Thomas Fuerst, VP of strategic marketing for Alcatel's fixed line communications group.
"We've developed the capacity to add GMPLS routing engines to existing network elements," says Fuerst, who says that a few Alcatel customers are already using GMPLS in their networks. It will also be used extensively in an optical network planned by Telefònica SA, Spain's incumbent carrier, he adds.
"I think the big point is that carriers are shifting their focus to the metro core now that the MSPP is fully entrenched," says Clavenna. "The MSSP (multiservice switching platform) is the glue that binds the metro with the core by creating a multiservice switching platform that combines digital crossconnects with Layer 2 switching."
"Job one is dense ring aggregation in the metro core. Job two is multiservice support from the SDH network. Job three is tying it all together with GMPLS."
— Peter Heywood, Founding Editor, Light Reading
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