Atrica Keeps It Simple

A newcomer to the fiercely competitive optical Ethernet market may have found a way to distinguish itself among cash-strapped carrier customers.

Atrica Inc., born in February 2000 (see Out of Atrica), today launched its first products -- including two networking boxes designed to put legacy carrier traffic onto Ethernet in metropolitan area networks. Atrica says this will enable telecom carriers to consolidate both legacy voice and data traffic onto Ethernet links that are cheaper and easier to maintain (see Atrica Intros Optical Ethernet System).

Atrica also released the news that BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS) has joined its board and will contribute an undisclosed amount to the startup's funding.

Atrica hopes to get an edge over rivals such as Appian Communications, Luminous Networks Inc., Tropic Networks Inc., and World Wide Packets Inc.

In general, Atrica's new products aim to deliver the economics of Ethernet without extras like synchronous voice, special video support, or other features that have typified announcements from some rivals.

Instead, Atrica stresses the basic value proposition of WAN Ethernet for less. It says its wares will sell for $1,200 to $3,500 per gigabit port, compared to metro Sonet prices of $18,000 per port for OC12 (622 Mbit/s) -- figures Atrica says it's taken from estimates by the The Dell'Oro Group.

"There's nothing fancy here. Atrica's doing flat-out Ethernet, competing strictly on price/performance," says Michael Kennedy, managing partner at Network Strategy Partners LLC, a consultancy.

Atrica's new products include the A-2100 Optical Ethernet Edge Switch, designed for the basements of customer premises or for carrier points of presence (POPs). The box takes in multiple TDM (time-division multiplexed) leased lines at rates from DS1 (1.544 Mbit/s) to T3 (45 Mbit/s) and uses circuit emulation to put them onto gigabit Ethernet connections in 1-Mbit/s increments. TDM voice is encapsulated in Ethernet using ITU spec G.744. The A-2100 also has OC3 (155 Mbit/s) or OC12 interfaces, so it can turn Sonet links into enterprise Ethernet bandwidth. Each A-2100 has a full-duplex capacity of 4 Gbit/s.

A second product, the A-5100, is designed for POPs of central offices. It supports up to 24 1-Gbit/s links and is designed to aggregate traffic from multiple A-2100s, supplying redundancy for all links. Both boxes are available now, along with an element management system that provisions services, monitors traffic for SLA (service-level agreement) verification, and uses Corba to tie into external OSSs (operation support systems) at carrier networks.

In many ways, Atrica's saving its best features for later. The A-8100, a 10-Gbit/s Ethernet core switch, is slated to ship during the third quarter of this year. The A-8100 will introduce MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) technology to Atrica's product line and will give carriers a way to replace OC3 and OC12 Sonet links at the metro core network.

And, at the Supercomm trade show in June, Atrica plans to announce a product that will support WDM (wavelength-division multiplexing), which will further extend the Ethernet capacities and distances Atrica's boxes support.

What is different is Atrica's stress on big carriers -- specifically, big international carriers interested in improving their transmission speeds with a minimum of fuss and cost. Atrica's enlisted these carriers as both funders and customers. In addition to BellSouth, Atrica's announced that four service providers, Bezeq, France Telecom SA, SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC), and Telia AB, have contributed $18 million to Atrica's $40 million in funding to date.

Customer-wise, trials are underway at Bezeq and France Telecom (see Atrica Announces Trials, Appointments). Atrica also says it's enlisted a German carrier and a trio of U.S. providers as trial customers. (The identities of these new customers are being kept under wraps, but sources indicate that one of them is Deutsche Telekom AG [NYSE: DT]. And it's likely that BellSouth and SBC would test Atrica's wares in the U.S.)

Atrica's focus on the big carriers is important. Given the current financial climate, experts say it will be these, not specialty providers, who ultimately finance a big buildout of Ethernet services (see Endless Ethernet?). And carriers are likely to help Atrica fund a product that will actually sell, instead of one that's developed at arm's length from customers.

The products are still in trial and have yet to ship, however, so time will tell whether Atrica's strategy is on the mark.

- Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com
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yr_we_here 12/4/2012 | 8:31:32 PM
re: Atrica Keeps It Simple wrong URL given for Network Strategy Partners
Mary Jander 12/4/2012 | 8:31:32 PM
re: Atrica Keeps It Simple Fixed. Sorry for the confusion.
hujifan 12/4/2012 | 8:31:28 PM
re: Atrica Keeps It Simple I really don't get it.

It's so "simple", there's nothing here more than in Extreme's Foundry's our Riverstone's boxes.

Or am i missing something??
cfaller 12/4/2012 | 8:31:28 PM
re: Atrica Keeps It Simple I'm guessing these boxes do the same thing as Riverstone/Extreme/Foundry, yet at a cheaper price in a smaller box consuming less power. We'll find out eventually.
fk 12/4/2012 | 8:31:27 PM
re: Atrica Keeps It Simple These boxes seem to be pretty modest in terms of development effort. I wonder if the architecture supports five nines reliability, and if they have experience in delivering true carrier class devices and software. I am interested in seeing whether they are truly ready for "prime time" with their announced solutions. The other factor that is a concern is whether the "large carriers" are yet ready to write off their existing infrastructure and start replacing it with an ethernet only infrastructure. While ethernet on the customer side is eminently sensible, I question whether ethernet on the network side is going to be deployed by large, healthy carriers with considerable existing investments in legacy SONET gear et al in the near future. Something tells me that the failure of CLECs to thrive will not hasten the deployment of the new stuff.

It will be interesting to see what comes of the beta testing process. If they're any good, they'll start showing up in some of the important labs (and not be shown the door.)
netskeptic 12/4/2012 | 8:31:25 PM
re: Atrica Keeps It Simple Forgive me my ignorance, howerever, however, I always associate word Ethernet with words flood and spaning tree.

I am wondering is it still going to be a case
at OC-192 level ?


noitall 12/4/2012 | 8:31:25 PM
re: Atrica Keeps It Simple unless you count a lightreading news feed as "buzz."

just ask the "tier one" operators how many atrica boxes they plan to deploy. there is absolutely no innovation here. the financing was weak, the management team is weak and the product is weak.

atrica is "d.o.a." acquisition bait at best.
fiber_r_us 12/4/2012 | 8:31:17 PM
re: Atrica Keeps It Simple "Flooding" is a term used for layer-2 bridging/switching to describe the forwarding of MAC-layer packets whose destination address does not appear in the lookup table of a bridge/switch. So, if the designer constructed an Ethernet-based network purely with Layer 2 switches, flooding and broadcast/multicast packets would be an issue.

Spanning tree is a protocol tha prevents forwarding loops in Layer 2 bridge/switch networks. It would only be used under the same conditions as above.

Most people are talking about using Ethernet as replacement for point-to-point SONET-based private lines that are currently used to interconnect data equipment (usually routers). In this application of Ethernet, neither spanning-tree nor flooding is applicable. Ethernet is simply a cheaper link solution.
fiber_r_us 12/4/2012 | 8:31:16 PM
re: Atrica Keeps It Simple Recently priced transponders show that an OC-192 transponder (includes laser, CDR, mux/demux, photodiode) is roughly $4,500 in volume purchases. 10GE transponders with the MAC chip can already be found for as low as $2,000. So, the OC-192 stuff is definately more expensive from a component standpoint. Moreover, when looked at from the system level, 10GE switches will be far cheaper on a price-per-port basis than OC-192 Crossconnects. This is due simply to the volume of shipment in the Ethernet world. Compare the volume of shipment of something like a Ciena Coredirector (probably measured in the hundreds) to an Ethernet switch like Cisco's Catalyst 6xxx (measured in the hundreds of thousands). The volume of shipment allows the vendors to amortorize the development and operational expenses over many more units.
netskeptic 12/4/2012 | 8:31:16 PM
re: Atrica Keeps It Simple > Most people are talking about using Ethernet as
> replacement for point-to-point SONET-based
> private lines that are currently used to
> interconnect data equipment (usually routers).
> In this application of Ethernet, neither
> spanning-tree nor flooding is applicable.
> Ethernet is simply a cheaper link solution.

Thanks for info. Then I do not understand what is all that 10 Gps Ethernet bruhaha is about, I am sorry.

It seems to me that OC-192c SONET chipsets are not going to cost much more than OC-192c Ethernet ones and it is seems like this is the only gain in sight.

And this gain could be easily wiped out by
SONET chipsets which are optimized for point-to-point connectivity while maintaining logical/pin
compatibility with more expensive chipsets implementing full SONET.

Can anybody explain what is all about ? Yet another hype or die campaign ?



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