Optical/IP Networks

Fujitsu Updates the MSPP

Acknowledging the growing importance of Ethernet in carrier networks, Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. is rolling out its Packet Optical Networking Platform (ONP), an Ethernet-minded successor to the multiservice provisioning platform (MSPP).

The Packet ONP line starts with the Flashwave 9500, launched yesterday, which combines Sonet and Ethernet transport with a reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexer (ROADM). (See Fujitsu Intros 9500.)

MSPPs were crafted to put multiple traffic types onto Sonet networks. With carrier Ethernet becoming a hot topic, optical gear vendors have been moving to add packet interfaces to their platforms while still supporting older TDM traffic. Fujitsu contends the situation calls for a new architecture, as opposed to just adding Ethernet cards to a regular MSPP.

After missing out on a lot of the early growth in the previous MSPP generation, Fujitsu is "taking a strong position in trying to define this new category, which is good for them," says Sterling Perrin, Senior Analyst at Heavy Reading. "I think coming out with a new platform is a good move for these guys."

The 9500 will compete against products like the Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) CN 4200, which is another optical platform with Ethernet aggregation capabilities. Fujitsu will also be going up against major players Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Nortel Networks Ltd. , all of whom claim strength in optical and Ethernet convergence.

Predictably, some competitors aren't impressed by the new platform. A representative of one competitor, who asked not to be named, says, "It's good that [Fujitsu is] finally on the bandwagon" for converged optical-Ethernet products, "but they're a little late to the party."

Density could be one "big advantage" of Fujitsu's 9500, Perrin says. Fujitsu claims that the 9500 is the densest optical networking platform of its kind, as it handles 480 Gbit/s of capacity (not double-counted, meaning it can switch 480 Gigabit Ethernet feeds at once) in one-third of a rack. The architecture can also squeeze a two-degree ROADM into as little as one-fourth of a shelf.

Another advantage analysts see is the universal switch fabric, which allows the 9500 to natively manage both Sonet- and packet-based traffic without using circuit emulation.

"It's hard to take the architecture of a certain type of fabric and to add other fabrics to it," IDC analyst Eve Griliches says. She believes the 9500's universal switch fabric will become a key differentiator as carriers increasingly look for "architectures built from scratch that support all of these technologies."

Native Sonet support is especially important to Fujitsu's target market of Tier 1 carriers that may want to offer metro Ethernet but still need to support older TDM infrastructure. "Tier 1 guys are thinking, 'If we put a box like this in now, we don't have the Sonet problem,'" Griliches says.

Sam Lisle, Fujitsu's market development director, also highlighted the product's carrier-grade Ethernet functionality. While the 9500 is designed to manage connection-oriented Ethernet by using pseudowires and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), Lisle says the platform can also support transport MPLS (T-MPLS) and provider backbone transport (PBT). The latter part is important because BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), a major customer of Fujitsu's networking gear, has been a big fan of PBT. (See Will Fujitsu Join PBT Parade?)

While Lisle sees more opportunity for pseudowires in North America, he says Fujitsu considers all the packet technologies to be roughly equivalent in terms of implementation. "If we're selling to BT, we will be working with them on PBT."

Perrin says Packet ONP could take awhile to see serious interest from carriers. "Takeup is not going to be immediate; it will depend on the takeup of telco video scaled deployments." He sees modest growth in 2007 and 2008, with a possible ramp up in 2009 or 2010.

Griliches disagrees. "There is a need for a product like this right now," she says. "Any large carrier looking to install ROADMs should also be thinking about the Sonet side and Ethernet aggregation."

The Flashwave 9500 will be just the first in a line of Packet ONP products. The company has plans for a higher-capacity version and a lower-capacity version of the platform in the works, Lisle says.

Sonet interfaces for the 9500 include a dual-port OC192 wideband card, a single-port OC192 narrowband card, and an eight-port multiservice unit. Each interface can be configured on a per-port basis as OC3, OC12, OC48, or Gigabit Ethernet running Ethernet over Sonet.

Ethernet interfaces include a two-port 10-Gigabit Ethernet wideband card, a two-port 10-Gigabit Ethernet narrowband card, and an ultra-dense 20-port Gigabit Ethernet unit. Transponder interfaces include a single-port, 10-Gbit/s universal transponder supporting OTU2, 10-Gigabit Ethernet LAN PHY, 10-Gigabit Ethernet WAN PHY, and OC192 client interfaces.

— Ryan Lawler, Reporter, Light Reading

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