Cisco Preps Long-Haul DWDM Platform
Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has yet to make a big impact in the market for long-haul DWDM equipment but it’s hoping to rectify that situation in the next couple of months with the announcement of a more capacious, more versatile platform called the ONS 15808, Light Reading has learned.
When Cisco gets around to announcing the ONS 15808, however, it’s unlikely to make much of a splash, for a couple of reasons. First, details of it have been available for some time on Cisco’s Website (see http://www.cisco.com/univercd/cc/td/doc/product/ong/15808/rel_01/170201.pdf ).
Second, although the ONS 15808 is a big improvement on Cisco’s existing platform, the ONS 15800, it doesn’t look significantly better than offerings from the market leaders, Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), to judge from comparisons of product specs.
Here's the background. Cisco acquired its existing long-haul DWDM platform, the ONS 15800, from Pirelli in 1999. It supports OC48 (2.5 Gbit/s) and OC192 (10 Gbit/s) transmission rates and crams up to 64 wavelengths in a single fiber over distances of up to 700 km. Improvements were announced relatively recently (see Cisco Hones RBOC Pitch).
The ONS 15800 hasn't won a particularly big share of the long-haul DWDM market, although more than two dozen customers have placed orders for it, the latest of which was announced today (see Cisco Wins in Hungary). An unknown proportion of these orders result from Cisco offering customers financing deals.
Cisco’s new platform, the ONS 15808, is also based on Pirelli technology, although the product was developed by Cisco itself. It’s a much higher-capacity system. In theory, the architecture could scale to “beyond 300” wavelengths, according to Jeff Santos, a senior director in Cisco's photonics business unit, although the practical limit is likely to be 160 wavelengths.
The ONS 15808 can be equipped with two types of amplifier -- one supporting conventional long-haul distances of up to 700 km and another supporting “extended long haul” distances of up to 2,000 km. As a result, service providers can use the same platform for a wide range of applications, which results in significant savings in spares, staff training, and so on, according to Cisco.
Ciena says this concept is nothing new. “They’re copying us,” says Denny Bilter, Ciena’s senior director of marketing. Ciena’s CoreStream platform offers three distance options -- 800 km, 1,600 km, and 3,200 km - according to Jim Westdorp, director of product management in Ciena’s core transport division.
Just like Cisco’s ONS 15808, Ciena's CoreStream can scale, in theory, to 320 wavelengths, according to Westdorp. And Ciena’s equipment is shipping now, unlike Cisco’s, which will ship in “the first part of next year,” according to a Cisco spokesperson.
Cisco declines to comment on detailed comparisons between the specs of its ONS 15808 (as given on its Website) and those of Ciena’s CoreStream and Nortel’s Optera Long Haul 1600 and 4000 products, saying that it would be inappropriate as its product hasn’t been officially announced yet. However, a spokesperson claims that Cisco’s OC192 transmission technology is "a strength" and “the ONS 15808 is capable of 33 percent more OC192 capacity per bay than comparable products from some of our legacy competitors.”
This wording may have been carefully chosen to exclude a comparison with Ciena, which wouldn't count as a “legacy competitor.”
According to the specs on Cisco’s Website, the ONS 15808 has 15 slots per shelf and three shelves per bay, and requires separate transmit and receive cards, each one filling a slot. By that reckoning, it can support 21 channels a bay, regardless of whether the channels are OC48 or OC192 -- a conclusion that Cisco declines to comment on. If it's correct, it puts Cisco ahead of Nortel’s 1600 platform in terms of OC192 density (Nortel says it manages 15 channels a bay) but behind it in OC48 density (Nortel says it manages 30 channels a bay).
However, Ciena appears to outgun Cisco on density. Its equipment has 16 slots per shelf, and Ciena handles OC192 transmit and receive on the same card. As a result, it crams 48 OC192 channels into a bay -- more than double Cisco’s achievement, according to Westdorp.
— Peter Heywood, Founding Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com Want to know more? This very topic is the subject of a session at Lightspeed Europe,Light Reading’s annual conference, on December 4-6, 2001, in London. For details, see: Long-Haul DWDM