Caspian Charges Hard
Caspian Networks has announced further progress in its journey to the core of the optical network. And, in the process, it's removed another layer of mystery from its nascent product.
The startup announced this morning that it has inked contracts with Applied Micro Circuits Corp. (AMCC) (Nasdaq: AMCC), Celestica Inc. (NYSE/TSE: CLS), IBM Microelectronics (NYSE: IBM), and IONA Technologies (Nasdaq: IONA) (see Caspian Reveals Strategic Partners).
Of particular interest is the agreement with IBM, whereby Big Blue's Microelectronics unit will fabricate ASICs designed by Caspian. Analysts say IBM typically only takes on ASIC customers it thinks have a chance at success.
"There's no question that an IBM ASIC deal is a feather in a startup's cap," says Tom Hausken, senior analyst, optical communications, at consultancy Strategies Unlimited.
Today's announcement also lends some interesting color to the emerging picture of Caspian's product, dubbed Apeiro. As anticipated, the Apeiro will be a terabit switch/router for broadband IP networks (see Caspian Networks).
The company says its first release will have a mind-boggling 155-Tbit/s maximum capacity and will support a range of user interfaces that include Sonet/SDH and gigabit Ethernet (thanks to AMCC's framing components). It will support BGP, IS-IS, and MPLS (traffic management will be facilitated through use of the Iona software), and will not feature any DWDM capabilities.
While it's hinted at all of these details in prior announcements and interviews with Light Reading, today's news indicates the company's ready to tackle its market task aggressively. Indeed, Caspian seems to want to make clear that it's following in the footsteps of the very companies it hopes to compete against -- specifically, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR), both of which also are customers of IBM and AMCC.
It's a bold tack, but one Caspian isn't shying away from or watering down with apologies. "We are seeking to replace traditional routers, such as Cisco's GSR 12000 and Juniper's M160 and M40, at the network core," a spokesman says.
Can Caspian succeed? The jury's out. "I think they have a great technology play," says David Yedwab, executive VP of Eastern Management Group. "Their chances depend on how well they're received in the market and on how well they can scale the business to support their goals."
- Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading