Ocular Takes On Tellabs
The latest version of the OSX 6000, which positions it head-to-head with products offered by Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA), will support 18,816 VT 1.5s (T1 equivalents) in a single shelf. This is more than a twofold increase from the original OSX 6000, which supported 9,000 VT 1.5s (see Ocular Announces First Product). The new product also adds standards-based Ethernet over Sonet capabilities for both the OSX-6000 and OSX-1000, the smaller product designed for access (see Ocular Targets Storage with CWDM).
Ocular's challenge is to convince carriers they need to replace existing products with those from a startup -- a particularly arduous task at a time when carriers are putting off upgrades and are facing an onslaught of new products from startups.
Currently, Tellabs dominates the digital crossconnect market with a 70 percent to 80 percent marketshare. Where Ocular hopes to challenge Tellabs is in density. The new OSX 6000 can aggregate more than 18,000 T1s in a single shelf, a feat that would take several seven-foot Telco bays for Tellab's Titan 5500. Ron Mackey, director of marketing for the optical networking group at Tellabs, acknowledges that the Titan 5500, now 11 years old, is not the densest product on the market. He concedes that the product's administrative features can take up a full bay.
But, he contends, "There's a lot more to being carrier class than how many T1s you support. You give up a lot of functionality when you make a product more dense. For tier-one carriers, that's only one criterion."
There is no question that the multiservice provisioning platform and the next-generation Sonet markets are crowded with companies claiming to solve the bottleneck issues in the metro area network. Over the past year, the industry has seen an influx of new players like Astral Point Communications Inc., Geyser Networks Inc., and Coriolis Networks Inc., not to mention bigger players like Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN).
Ocular, which uses a single switch fabric to switch ATM, IP, and TDM, is taking a slightly different approach. The company maintains that, while data traffic is growing, service providers are still generating roughly 80 percent of their revenue from voice traffic. And with only about 10 percent of buildings connected to fiber, businesses are relying more and more on traditional T1 lines for more bandwidth.
“The main message here is that we’re not trying to compete against next-generation Sonet products like Cisco’s 15454,” says Doug Green vice president of marketing for Ocular. “Instead we’re going after the crossconnect companies. These other guys can do the next-generation Sonet transport, but they don’t have much to replace the high-density crossconnects.”
The product's small footprint can benefit carriers in several ways. For one, it saves them valuable space in their central offices. Secondly, it reduces the amount of power consumption needed to run it, lowering overall operational costs.
The big question now is when Ocular will announce a customer. The company says it has completed trials and is certified for deployment with at least one large interexchange carrier (IXC). Green also says the company is “weeks away” from completing a second trial with another major IXC. He also says the company has three ongoing trials and orders for about 10 more trials, including one from an RBOC. As of today, however, the company had yet to name a customer.
As for Tellabs, the company doesn't seem worried about competition from Ocular.
"There is a reason why we dominate this space and others, like Lucent, are getting out of it," says Mackey. "We'll always keep our eye on new players, but we're less concerned about what Ocular is doing and more focused on what our primary customers need."
- Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading