Atoga Expands Tunable Router
Like the OAR 5i, which was announced earlier this month, the OAR 30 is meant to be a flexible optical box that can gather traffic from legacy or electronic protocols such as time-division multiplexing (TDM) and IP routing and switch it onto wave-division multiplexing (WDM) optical networks (see Atoga Upgrades Router). The support for TDM and the use of tunable lasers, which allow wavelengths and bandwidth to be adjusted using software, set it apart from other startups like Village Networks Inc. and Tropic Networks Inc. that also are building optical packet nodes.
The OAR 30 supports a switching capacity of 30 Gbit/s, versus 5 Gbit/s in the OAR 5i, and it comes in a telco chassis that makes it more flexible by offering more room for a variety of interfaces. A total of 12 slots can support a two-port gigabit Ethernet card; a four-port or 16-port 10/100 Ethernet card; as well as different Sonet interfaces such as a one-port OC48 (2.5 Gbit/s) card, a four-port OC12 (622 Mbit/s) card, and a 16-port OC3 (155 Mbit/s) card.
“Atoga’s architecture always called for a larger hub product,” says Scott Clavenna, president of PointEast Research LLC and director of research at Light Reading. “They really needed to make a larger, more flexible box.”
Clavenna says the OAR 30 can be used as a hub in a telecommunications carrier's central office or large point of presence (POP). The smaller and cheaper OAR 5i’s might be used in smaller POPs to collect traffic for the hub.
The tunable lasers are one of the product's differentiating technologies. They allow customers to add entire wavelengths remotely without any hardware modifications. Other systems use fixed lasers, which require manual hardware changes to add wavelengths and capacity (see Atoga Tunes Out the Competition).
The company's first product, the OAR 5, which doesn’t offer support for TDM, is currently in lab trials, but the company won’t say which carriers are testing it. The OAR 5i isn’t expected to go into trials until the third quarter, and the OAR 30 won’t begin testing until Q4 this year.
Analysts point out that, while the product vision is interesting, the real world may not yet be ready to use it.
“They should do well competing on price with competitors,” says Ron Kline, senior analyst for optical transport at RHK Inc.. “But no one has actually seen any of it work. And no one has seen a customer yet, either.”
Kline says the real question is whether or not the all-in-one product will provide telecommunications carriers with lower operational costs. “There is value when you can eliminate the number of network elements and collapse them into a single box,” he says. “But carriers can get all the same pieces from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and if they can manage those more cheaply and more easily than the Atoga gear, they’ll go with Cisco.”
In April, Atoga closed a $50 million round of funding led by Silicon Valley Internet Capital (SVIC) and Institutional Venture Partners (IVP). New Enterprise Associates and Sequoia Capital, Atoga's two original investors, also contributed to this round of financing.
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- Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading