Fujitsu Enters Mini-Mux Market

ATLANTA, Georgia--The latest generation of add/drop multiplexers (ADMs) are the Sonet equivalent of Bonsai trees – small, cute, beautifully formed.

Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. is the latest vendor to grow one. It will announce its Flash2400 ADX Sonet ADM tomorrow, at the Supercomm industry trade show here in Atlanta. The device supports up to eight OC-48 unidirectional path switched rings (UPSRs) in a single shelf, taking up less than half as much space as traditional Sonet kit, Fujitsu says. That could add up to big savings for service providers.

Fujitsu’s announcement is significant because it’s the first member of the Sonet establishment to announce a wee, homegrown, next-generation ADM. Equivalent ADMs so far have been developed by startups -- including Cyras http://www.cyras.com (see Cyras: The Next Cerent? ), Siara Networks, which was bought by Redback Networks Inc. http://www.redback.com (see Redback Unveils Siara Product), and Cerent, which was bought by Cisco Systems Inc. http://www.cisco.com.

Fujitsu’s proven track record with developing and installing Sonet equipment gives it considerable advantages over its younger competitors. “We have deployed over 200,000 ADMs and terminals. That counts with carriers,” says Greg Wortman, vice president of marketing at Fujitsu.

But how does Fujitsu’s hardware shape up to the boxes from its upstart competitors? As might be expected given its heritage, the Flash2400 combines both old and new telco philosophies. On one hand it supports a full slate of standards compliant Sonet features, in a package that holds its own against new-age Sonet products in terms of port density.

On the other, it does not provide a way to improve Sonet’s ability to carry data traffic using stat muxing or other device intelligence – a feature that Cisco, Cyras, Redback et al claim is a must for carriers looking to build converged voice and data networks.

Lack of data IQ could hurt the product's prospects, especially with younger and more aggressive CLECs (new-LECs) that are trying to differentiate their services from incumbents. “I'm not sure I would call it a Cerent killer, especially without the packet-over Sonet capabilities for statistical multiplexing of data services at the network edge,” says Scott Clavenna, principal analyst at Pioneer Consulting LLC, http://www.pioneerconsulting.com.

Fujitsu says it will add data smarts to the device at a later, unspecified date. It also makes a lot of the fact that Cyras and Redback have not yet shipped their boxes.

"Siara [Redback] and Cyras have zero market share and do not have a product on the market now,” says Greg Wortman, vice president of marketing at Fujitsu.

In reality this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black; Fujitsu won’t actually ship its Flash2400 until the end of the year.

By that time, it is expected that Cisco will have made significant enhancements to its Cerent product, which is shipping in bulk today.

”Right now it seems like this has greater density than the Cerent device. But Cisco is noodling with that product, so it’s hard to say,” says Clavenna.

Fujitsu can expect yet more competition shortly. Both Lucent http://www.lucent.com and Nortel Networks Inc. http://www.nortel.com are reportedly readying their own new and as yet unannounced ADMs.

--Stephen Saunders, US Editor Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com

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