Cisco Preps New Optical Switch
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