Optical/IP Networks

Atoga Tunes Out the Competition

Atoga Systems has one-upped its competition.

The company announced its Optical Application Router 5 (OAR 5) today, which uses tunable lasers to enable on-demand bandwidth provisioning. In other words, it can scale bandwidth up and down, on the fly, by controlling the lasers with software.

The OAR 5 architecture, detailed in a previous Light Reading article, combines Sonet add/drop multiplexing, IP routing, and WDM functionality into one device (see A Sneak Peek Into Atoga).

Three-in-one boxes are nothing new in the metropolitan network market. Companies like Alidian Networks Inc., Coriolis Networks Inc., Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) (through its Chromatis acquisition), and Ocular Networks Inc. all claim to offer this capability. Other products called optical packet nodes (OPNs) from vendors like Village Networks Inc. also combine IP routing with optical switching (see Village Unveils "Optical Packet Node").

But unlike the rest of these companies, Atoga uses tunable lasers.

“They’re the first to announce this capability to move wavelengths around using software rather than through hardware, and right now it looks like they are ahead of the pack,” says Michael Kennedy, a managing partner with Network Strategy Partners LLC. “It represents the next phase of development for these kinds of devices. But I’d have to say they won’t be front-runners for too long. Others are already talking about using tunable lasers.”

The benefit of using tunable lasers is that entire wavelengths can be added and assigned remotely without any hardware modifications. This differs from other systems, which use fixed lasers and require hardware to be changed manually anytime wavelengths are added to a system to provide more capacity. Being able to make these changes through software offers a big cost savings.

How big? Software provisioned wavelengths coupled with the consolidation of IP routing, Sonet add/drop multiplexing, and WDM could help reduce operational costs as much as 80 percent, according to Kennedy.

But the inclusion of tunable lasers in this product does more than just save service providers money, claims P.G. Menon, VP of marketing for Atoga. It can help them make money, too.

“The OAR 5 not only identifies traffic flows, but it allows providers to police traffic,” says Menon. “This gives them the opportunity to offer new services and generate revenue.”

The device identifies and classifies traffic flows and applies policies using lightweight directory access protocol (LDAP). The IP layer and the WDM portion of the product communicate so that the lasers can turn up additional wavelengths on demand.

In the first release, the product will offer up to 40 channels or 100 Gbit/s of capacity per fiber. This is expected to increase to systems that can support 80 to 160 channels by the end of the year for 400 Gbit/s worth of capacity on a single fiber.

While this may sound great on paper, there is actually no proof that any of it works. The company claims that the product is already in beta tests with “several service providers," but it won’t release the names of those providers. And the product won’t be generally available until March 2001.

-- Marguerite Reardon, senior editor, Light Reading, http://www.lightreading.com

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lightreading 12/4/2012 | 9:01:13 PM
re: Atoga Tunes Out the Competition The hype-meter is maxed out on this one. It seems we're quite excited about Atoga and tunable lasers. I question the:

- cost (savings)
- lack of customer endorsement and/or trial

"...several customers trials..." just doesn't cut it.

I'm not sure I understand the application either. 2 I/O slots (one trib, one line) per box warrants 40 channel DWDM and tunable lasers? I must be missing something.

I'm calling BS until I see something more convincing, like an announced customer trial.

I may not have all the facts, but to appear credible, you guys (LR) should try to incorporate some more of the ANALYSIS into the news analysis, instead of jumping on the first guy to mention tunable lasers.

Tunable lasers are not a new technology, there's a reason nobody's deployed them yet...
sunnyD 12/4/2012 | 9:01:13 PM
re: Atoga Tunes Out the Competition I agree. This is all marketing. Pure 100% hype.
So is atoga making its own tunable laser ? Where did they get the tunable laser from ? Which supplier/vendor is willing to sell tunable lasers in very small quantities at affordable cost to noname company like atoga ? and what is the pricing on atoga's vaporware box ?

very poorly done article. no research, no real facts, just haste to meet some arbitrary deadline.
I give this article and the company a thumbs down.

also, did you hear atoga's vp of engg just quit ? i heard he took some of the top engineers with him as well.
dbostan 12/4/2012 | 9:01:12 PM
re: Atoga Tunes Out the Competition It is not hype. It is actually very real.
And I suggest you watch this "no-name" company.
techinvest 12/4/2012 | 9:01:12 PM
re: Atoga Tunes Out the Competition I am very familiar with tunable laser and I know that no one has a comercial product out yet(due diligence on an investment). Sure you can get a few units here or there but that it. So how could a product be at customers already? Was the product developed using vapor ware. Or maybe the tuneable laser was not neccessary during the development?? I would bet a lot of real money that Atoga does not have a product in the field that is using a tunable laser that covers more than 5 wavelengths. Wouldn't you think a company like ONI which focuses all its efforts on optics, have a tunable laser capability. Or maybe the Atoga team is better in optics than ONI?

Secondly the concept of tunable lasers and softtunable bandwidth combined does not make any sense from a customer point of view. People keep forgetting in referring to tunable lasers, that there still needs to be a laser installed when the network is turned up. When more bandwidth is required, does the tunable laser magically run at a higher speed? Or maybe it multiplies itself? Being connected to a different location does not mean more bandwidth....

At best, tunable lasers are effective in creating virtual optical cross connects(using the wavelength to route through the network). Marconi has done a relatively good job of explaining this. (Marconi has an interally developled tunable laser source, so they could be credible in a tunable laser story.)

This story is the most hype I have seen of any story on LightReading in a very long time. Why not combine the best buzz words in the industry and create a new company. Lets see... MPLS, tunable lasers, MEMs, IP services, TDM + data, etc...

On the positive I believe that Atoga does have a reasonable softtunable bandwidth product and a reasonable engineering team. I guess they had to mix the story up a bit to fool LR into a better technology spin. LR needs to hire a expert in optics to sort through this BS. I would venture to guess that Silkroad would have fooled LR as well, yet not a single Ph.D. in optics that I met believed in that story. Better luck next time...
Peter Heywood 12/4/2012 | 9:01:11 PM
re: Atoga Tunes Out the Competition Steady on. I think you're painting an overly negative picture here.

For a kickoff, ADC (previously Altitune) has been shipping widely tunable lasers for more than a year.

Moreover, a bunch of other startups aren't that far away from shipping tunable lasers.

One of them is Agility, which is talking about pumping out large volumes of tunable lasers at very low prices - prices that will compete with fixed wavelength lasers.


Another of them is Iolon, which has some cool ways of making MEMS-based tunable components. Iolon's CEO, John Clark, is a real heavyweight in optical networking technology and he's totally convinced that tunable widgets are going to revolutionize telecoms. He's betting his career on it. See:


Also, take a look at this story:


Telenor ran an R&D project about 18 months ago in which it used widely tunable lasers to demonstrate the point I'm making. Guess what? Widely tunable lasers were available for them to conduct this project. They came from Altitune, Marconi and NEL.

Here's another couple of items that point to the potential importance of tunable components in next gen networks:



Peter Heywood
Light Reading
Kyra 12/4/2012 | 9:01:11 PM
re: Atoga Tunes Out the Competition
Frankly, It makes no sense to believe what this person has written either... pure 100% threatened perhaps?

Just checked out the ATOGA site, looks like they have both a VP of software and hardware engineering... so which one quit? Neither probably...

Just visited Supernet and the Atoga box is up and running.... 3 of them.

I think I'll just go with the facts that I have collected...

Peter Heywood 12/4/2012 | 9:01:10 PM
re: Atoga Tunes Out the Competition In case it isn't pbvious, person on this thread calling him or herself "lightreading" isn't from Light Reading.

Peter Heywood
Light Reading
Peter Heywood 12/4/2012 | 9:01:10 PM
re: Atoga Tunes Out the Competition Re the message suggesting we hire an expert......we have!

Pauline Rigby, one of our senior editors, has a PhD in opto-electronics.

Peter Heywood
Light Reading

paulglen 12/4/2012 | 9:01:09 PM
re: Atoga Tunes Out the Competition I am a bit skeptical that there are really such major cost savings in a typical application. The only way to allow for a significant amount of scaling is to have all the needed lasers preinstalled and to start with a relatively low utilization. That makes the initial purchase rather cumbersome, in addition to requiring a fairly large box and its associated overhead. The question then becomes whether the initial cost becomes sufficiently amortized over the life of the platform to justify its large upfront expense. It seems to me that this is a difficult sell, having vast quantities of unused bandwidth (many lambdas) that you have to pay for up front simply so you won't have to upgrade for a long time. I don't see how that translates into a workable business case for customers. And there is the ongoing question as to whether the platform itself can actually feed all these lambdas through whatever switching matrix they may have. Certainly many a platform has been built with an aggregate capacity of links that vastly outstrips what the core switch can do on its best day.

As for soft-tunable bandwidth, is this the real McCoy, providing a guaranteed level of bandwidth with a maximum burst rate per customer or flow or is it nothing more than rate limiting? I am aware of only one company in trials with real soft-tunable bandwidth, and it's not Atoga.
M. Yost 12/4/2012 | 9:01:05 PM
re: Atoga Tunes Out the Competition Hi Peter,
We just interviewed a manager from Atoga, he would like to leave Atoga because they have big problems in both optics and software. He mentioned that software group is very weak and no one in optical group really knows optics, how could they deliver the products? We believe what he said, please check with Atoga, and don't broadcast any misleading analysis unless you have proved it.

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