Optical/IP Networks

Cisco Piles On the DWDM

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) today furthered its ongoing campaign to dominate metro networks by announcing yet another DWDM (dense wavelength-division multiplexing) product. The new box, dubbed the Cisco ONS 15540 Extended Services Platform (ESP), was built for both service provider and enterprise networks, the company says (see Cisco Unveils Metro DWDM System).

In March, Cisco announced another new metro DWDM product line -- which includes the ONS 15201, ONS 15252, and ONS 15216. Those boxes were based on the technology Cisco acquired last year from Qeyton Systems and are meant to sit at the customer's premises, therefore piggybacking on the success of Cisco's ONS 15454 Sonet add/drop multiplexer, which sits around metro rings (see Cisco Marches Deeper Into the Metro).

Cisco's new metro DWDM box This new platform is a much more heavy-duty box. It can be used to provide connections between service provider points of presence (POPs) or to boost metro network capacity by providing Sonet/SDH aggregation in metro rings. It can also help service providers give several customers different types of storage services -- including Enterprise Systems Connection (ESCON), Fiber Connector (FICON), or Fibre Channel connections -- over a single wavelength.

More to the point, it looks as if Cisco has added a DWDM blade and a few more services to its Cerent box (now the ONS 15454), says LuxN Inc.'s marketing veep, Agnes Imregh, and its director of product management, Paul Zalloua.

Initially, the ONS 15540 will support up to 32 protected wavelengths per fiber pair, operating at variable speeds from 16 Mbit/s to 2.5 Gbit/s, for a total capacity up to 80 Gbit/s per system. The box has 12 slots in a 24-inch-tall chassis.

By the numbers, though, Cisco's new box will probably win more points as part of a multiproduct sales pitch, rather than an individually superior product. Another metro DWDM box, Sorrento Networks Corp.'s (Nasdaq: FIBR) GigaMux product, looks to be more compact and more powerful.

Sorrento says their box supports up to 32 protected wavelengths per fiber pair, operating at variable speeds from 16 Mbit/s to 2.5 Gbit/s. It can also support 10 Gbit/s per wavelength, for total capacity of up to 1,280 Gbit/s per fiber pair, the company says.

Both boxes use the same frequency separation -- ITU 100Ghz spacing with 32 wavelengths in the C-band -- but Sorrento says its box also expands with 32 more wavelengths in the L-band. And in the size department, Sorrento crams 16 slots in a 12.25-inch-tall chassis.

Judging from its protection feature, however, Cisco's new box could also be a competitor to similar products from ONI Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ONIS), which have been selling well.

Future iterations of the product will allow for transmitting multiple services over a single wavelength, switching at the lambda or sub-lambda level, and support for 10-gigabit Ethernet and OC192. The box also supports several DWDM networking architectures, including point-to-point, hub-ring, and mesh-ring networks, the company says.

On the storage area networks side, Cisco says it intends to make the box work with gear from IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC). Service providers testing the box include Metromedia Fiber Network Inc. (MFN) (Nasdaq: MFNX) and AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T).

The box will be available next month, fetching a base price of $67,000, a price that Sorrento says is higher than its base price.

While the product fills an important role in Cisco's metro strategy, other vendors contend the product is on a par with what's already being sold. "The size isn't particularly exciting, and the wavelength count sounds like what everyone else is offering," says Thomas Mock, senior director of transport product management at Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN). "I would also note that we're delivering 10 Gbit/s today and they're not."

A Cisco spokesperson was unavailable for an interview while this report was being compiled. Other metro DWDM vendors, including Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) and ONI Systems, didn't return calls by press time.

-- Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com
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drewsmith 12/4/2012 | 10:12:59 PM
re: Cisco Piles On the DWDM When the big boys finish lab trials with Crisco optical equipment. The truth comes out!!! Lets see if Crisco can actual design something new.

Carrier grade does not mean dual power supplies and fans. It means quality software and hardware. Ever look at IOS and wonder when it will need a swap file to run properly.

The enterprise is where Crisco will be stuck for ever unless the stop trying to route everything in their path.

The Truth Hurts.
Scott Raynovich 12/4/2012 | 8:29:10 PM
re: Cisco Piles On the DWDM Seems to be a Cisco DWDM onslaught. Does anybody think Cisco has gone overboard on metro DWDM? Is it all an attempt to grab a piece of ONI's pie?
dc_optics 12/4/2012 | 8:29:10 PM
re: Cisco Piles On the DWDM Cisco is at it again. Don't count them out. If they build it people will come. And if they don't build they will buy it.
brdimkr 12/4/2012 | 8:29:09 PM
re: Cisco Piles On the DWDM From what I understand, the 15540 is much more enterprise than service provider. There is not much overlap with the Qeyton applications.

Killer app is SAN with native protocol support.

Piling on is not an accurate description. Covering all the bases in more appropriate.
prefer_to_lurk 12/4/2012 | 8:29:09 PM
re: Cisco Piles On the DWDM
Sounds like too little too late to me.

They didn't announce anything that Nortel (OM5200) and ONI haven't been deploying for over a year. Ciena is also pushing hard in this space.

Bringing (at best) equivalent technology to the table 12 to 18 months after the competition isn't a recipe for a success...


Fred Snarff 12/4/2012 | 8:29:04 PM
re: Cisco Piles On the DWDM I would say disjointed and disorganized is more appropriate. one successful optical product - the 454. that's it. and it's not even truly optical - meaning DWDM. the rest is just a bunch of pieces in cisco's attempt to piecemail some type of product strategy together in hopes of capturing any optical (DWDM) market share before it's too late. a bunch of different boxes all with relatively average capabilities, coming from different acquisitions or different BU's, tied together only with an NMS does not make a compelling, best of breed architecture.

enterprise only. not enough features for a carrier-class transport device. simply put, they still don't understand the carrier transport market. not sure they ever will.

Peter Heywood 12/4/2012 | 8:28:55 PM
re: Cisco Piles On the DWDM Has Cisco stopped (re)selling Adva enterprise DWDM gear?
cable_guy 12/4/2012 | 8:28:54 PM
re: Cisco Piles On the DWDM Why does everyone hype up ONI - "getting a piece of their pie" etc..? ONI's quarterly revenue's are a bad month for Cisco's metro DWDM product lines. Cisco's metro products are perfectly positioned for metro/regional service provider and enterprise markets with minimal overlap.

"capturing any optical (DWDM) market share before it's too late?" - if you call #1 in market share "any" than you're correct.

Fred Snarff 12/4/2012 | 8:28:49 PM
re: Cisco Piles On the DWDM I wasn't aware they have multiple metro DWDM product line*S*. I also wasn't aware that cisco had sold ANY of the Qeyton stuff yet. they must have signed a very large contract recently with a very large secret customer for them to all of a sudden be #1 in metro DWDM market share, after only luanching the product a couple of months ago - and one year late to market. please enlighten me.

I don't even think they are #1 in SONET gear yet with the 454, although it is doing very well.
are we talking about the same thing or did you go back to your crack habit recently?

lo_mein_noodles 12/4/2012 | 8:28:47 PM
re: Cisco Piles On the DWDM Peter, I think it is safe to say the cisco/adva product (15 wahtever number) is an unsupported OEM deal. In other words....your cisco rep. screwed you when he told you to buy the adva gear, now he's gonna come tell you to replace it with the queyton stuff. Ahhhhh...cisco is always looking out for their customers aren't they?
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