Optical/IP Networks

Cisco Preps New Optical Switch

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is developing an optical switch designed for installation in metro networks, Light Reading has learned.

In a phone call late this afternoon, the company acknowledged the existence of the product, but declined to give further details. However, it flatly denied rumors that the new product will be used to replace the switch it acquired when it bought Monterey Networks in 1999, the ONS 15900 Wavelength Router.

"The [Monterey switch] goes in the core. The new switch goes in the metro. These are different products for different markets. One cannot replace the other. The Monterey product has not been discontinued," said a spokesperson.

Other sources in the optical networking industry were more forthcoming with information about the new device. Light Reading has obtained information about the new device from five sources: two public equipment vendors, a startup switch manufacturer, a venture capital firm, and a market research company. All of them requested anonymity.

They say that the new product is being developed in San Jose by Cisco engineers under the code name “The Manhattan Project” and that its official product name will be the ONS 15232.

It’s a 32-port OC192 switch, Light Reading’s sources say, and they add that Cisco is building the product using commercially available silicon, rather than custom ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits).

One of the sources provided more detailed information, saying that the device will be able to optimize optical capacity by “grooming” traffic onto wavelengths at speeds as low as STS1 (51 Mbit/s). That’s significant because it will allow it to compete against products from Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) and Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR), which support similar traffic grooming capabilities on their switches. Ciena’s current success is attributable in large part to being the first to support such a capability in its core optical switches.

The consensus among analysts is that the market will react favorably to the news of a new optical switch from Cisco, especially given the company's difficulties in shipping the Monterey product.

"It won't have a negative impact. This is a positive for Cisco," says Seth Spalding, analyst at Epoch Partners.

Cisco needs a switch hit. Its attempts to ship the Monterey product have been plagued with problems, not the least of which is its size. While other optical switch companies have been trying to shrink their switches down into smaller form factors, Cisco’s 15900 is about the size of a Ford Expedition -- prompting one industry gag that “15900” is actually the product’s zip code.

The company's aspirations for the device also suffered a blow when Monterey’s founders left to form the Iris Group, a startup coalition (see Iris Group Attracts $60M ).

-- Stephen Saunders, US editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com
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cable_guy 12/4/2012 | 8:55:21 PM
re: Cisco Preps New Optical Switch This is National Enquirer quality stuff here. Comparing telecom equipment to a Ford Explorer? In the real world we speak in bays, ports, power consumption, etc. You guys are simply looking for dirt and will print anything you can get your hands on.
stout4555 12/4/2012 | 8:55:20 PM
re: Cisco Preps New Optical Switch It does seem small relative to what other vendors are building. Are they starting small and working their way up? Or is this some sort of 'edge' play like the CoreDirector CI to be integrated with the Cerent and Qeyton products?
DCITDave 12/4/2012 | 8:55:20 PM
re: Cisco Preps New Optical Switch Might you also, "in the real world," speak of customers, revenues, and units shipped? And what are those figures for the Monterey box?

Do tell.
oc-3072 12/4/2012 | 8:55:19 PM
re: Cisco Preps New Optical Switch could be, but when the facts role out in a month and light reading is right... they'll have been the ones who broke the story. this is what makes the site valuable. i don't believe everything i read (anywhere... including the ny times, wsj, etc), but at least this gets me thinking.

Steve Saunders 12/4/2012 | 8:55:18 PM
re: Cisco Preps New Optical Switch The updated version of the story is now live. Cisco provided some product positioning information that makes their strategy clearer.
Steve Saunders 12/4/2012 | 8:55:18 PM
re: Cisco Preps New Optical Switch Cisco just called -- stand by for an updated version of the story in about 10 minutes.

YvonneD 12/4/2012 | 8:55:18 PM
re: Cisco Preps New Optical Switch For those of us who don't get out of colocations facilities very often and require size to be described in Telecom bays, rather than in terms of common American automobile technology, the Monterey switch is said to fit into 7 full telecom bays, but a more typical installation reportedly required 9 full bays, according to sources familiar with the product. The standard 7' telecom bay is 7' tall, 19" and 12" deep. That means a full 9-bay installation of the Monterey swtich would be approximately 200" long. The Expedition is 204" long, according to Car and Driver magazine (www.caranddriver.com), making it a powerful visible analog to the size of the Monterey switch. We have not yet compared the metrics on the weight of the two items. I have, however, seen both up close and personal, and must add that their resemblance in terms of size is quite remarkable.
Telecom_Guy 12/4/2012 | 8:55:16 PM
re: Cisco Preps New Optical Switch They had the facts totally wrong. They must be smoking crack up there. Well at least I now know to take everything they say with a ton of salt. Because it could all be wrong!!! The story they had before is very different than the one they have now. It went from Cisco dumps the 15900 router to Cisco adds a new switch to the metro.
Good thing this was caught before too many people realized that Lightreading messed up. We wouldn't want them to lose credibility at providing truthful information. And hey what does this say about their sources. (I believe they mentioned 5!!!) Well it means that their sources are like them, all smoking some wacky stuff.

I'm going to be waaaaaaaay more careful on what to believe now.
oc-3072 12/4/2012 | 8:55:15 PM
re: Cisco Preps New Optical Switch "waaaaaaaayyyy more careful..."? why? did you bet your life savings on it?
spinner 12/4/2012 | 8:55:14 PM
re: Cisco Preps New Optical Switch TG: Not sure what you are complaining about.

How was the story "totally" wrong?

The part about it replacing the 15900 might be wrong (depends if you think Cisco is telling the truth, doesn't it?)

The rest? Not wrong.

What do you want...to hear about new products weeks or months in advance, or to not to hear anything at all?

If you want "nothing at all" what are you doing at a site like this?

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