Optical/IP Networks

Cisco Peps Up Its Sonet Muxes

ATLANTA -- OFC 2003 -- Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) kicked off the OFC Conference here today by announcing several developments concerning its optical networking product line, including a new customer for its ONS 15600 multiservice switch and enhanced DWDM capabilities for its ONS 15454 box, the lynchpin of Cisco's service provider strategy (see Cisco Bolsters Optical Products).

None of the announcements Cisco made were knockout punches themselves, but each is a quick, strategic jab to remind the heavyweight telecom carriers that Cisco is as serious as ever about landing a big contract with a big carrier. Achieving this goal, however, isn't going to be easy.

The new ONS 15600 customer is SDN Communications, a carrier that already uses Cisco's ONS 15454 and ONS 15327 Sonet add/drop multiplexers (ADMs) to deliver TDM and metro Ethernet services. SDN is a 27-member consortium of South Dakota independent telephone companies that serves more than 150,000 access lines. It is run by a nine-member board and employs about 50 people.

Cisco says SDN is using its switch to consolidate its existing OC48 (2.5 Gbit/s) interfaces and cut down on the number of DS3 (45 Mbit/s) crossconnects in its network. The ONS 15600 is all about consolidating equipment; it provides TDM interfaces at OC48 and OC192 (10 Gbit/s) rates while providing switching capability at STS1 (52 Mbit/s) rates. As such, it eliminates the need for the combined efforts of an STS switch or digital crossconnect and several ADMs (see Cisco's Fine Young Cannibal). This is the third publicly announced 15600 customer and the tenth overall for the platform, according to Robert K. Koslowsky, director of marketing for Cisco's optical networking group. The other two public 15600 customers -- US Signal and Looking Glass Networks Inc. -- use the switch to consolidate several ONS 15454 boxes in their metro points of presence (POPs).

The other product line updates include adding more DWDM muscle to the Cisco ONS 15454, which now supports 32 channels of OC 192/STM64, based on International Telecommunication Union, Standardization Sector (ITU-T) frequency recommendations. This clears the 15454 to provide DWDM transport between telecom central offices or to provide transport for enterprises and campuses that require more than 10 Gbit/s of bandwidth. Add some optical amplification and dispersion compensation along a route, and the 15454 can be used for single-channel applications that requiring long-haul DWDM transport, Cisco says.

Cisco’s overall strategy in this area is to help carriers shift DWDM functionality away from standalone metro DWDM platforms and into its multiservice provisioning platforms -- notably the 15454, according to Jeff Santos, general manager of its optical technology group. This is all part of Cisco’s effort to convince incumbent carriers that the 15454 can help them generate new revenues from integrating their data and transmission operations (see Cisco (Re)Launches SDH Push).

Cisco’s plans to do this are pooh-poohed by the entrenched suppliers of Sonet equipment such as Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), and Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. (FNC). They say incumbent carriers will stick with equipment they know and trust, particularly as they’ve spent huge sums of money on network management systems and training staff to operate and maintain it.

Cisco's decision to integrate more DWDM functions in its 15454 might reflect the problems it's had in the market for standalone metro DWDM platforms. At one stage, it resold equipment from ADVA AG Optical Networking (Frankfurt: ADV). Then it acquired a Swedish metro DWDM startup (see Cisco To Buy Qeyton For $800 Million). Then it unveiled its own development (see Cisco Piles On the DWDM ) and eventually shut down Qeyton (see Cisco Intends to Close Swedish Plant). Although its market share has grown, it's still a long way behind Nortel, ADVA, and Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN).

Cisco's standalone long-haul DWDM boxes have also been kept out of the marketing spotlight for some time, which adds to the chatter that Cisco is getting ready to bail on the ONS 15800 product line (see Is Cisco Long for the Long-Haul Market?).

During a recent chat with Light Reading, Cisco's spinmeisters stood behind the 15800 -- way, way behind it. "We're committed to the optical space, but where we see most of the investment now is in the metro," says Koslowsky.

"There's just very little activity" in standalone long-haul DWDM applications, says Jim Sauer, director of product marketing for Cisco's optical networking product group. "It is something we're watching, but it's not a market that's taking off with blazing speed."

Finally, today, Cisco announced that the ONS 15600 switch and the ONS 15216 metro DWDM unit have complete Telcordia Technologies Inc.'s Osmine certification process, clearing both boxes for use in the regulated portion of RBOC networks (see Telcordia's Osmine Goldmine). This follows the ONS 15454, which was initially Osmine certified in 2001, and further adds to Cisco's pitch that it can be an end-to-end optical networking supplier to big, incumbent carriers -- in the metro network, anyhow (see Cisco Hones RBOC Pitch).

— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading

For up-to-date information about the coming OFC Conference, please visit Light Reading’s Unauthorized OFC Preview Site.

southernlight 12/5/2012 | 12:22:45 AM
re: Cisco Peps Up Its Sonet Muxes "This is all part of CiscoGÇÖs effort to convince incumbent carriers that the 15454 can help them generate new revenues from integrating their data and transmission operations"

Which RBOC(s) is/are looking at the 15454 for general deployment?
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