Optical/IP Networks

OIF Demos Herald Interoperability

ATLANTA –- OFC 2003 -- One of the largest interoperability demonstrations to date for next-generation optical switching platforms is drawing carrier interest and encouraging the hope that next-generation optical equipment could come into its own over the next two years.

Here at OFC, 24 companies belonging to the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) are demonstrating what the OIF calls the “first routed optical networking interoperability event." (See OIF Demos Interop at OFC.) The demonstrations showed how the Forum’s User Network Interface (UNI), Network-to-Network Interface (NNI), and Physical Link Layer (PLL) could enable optical connections to be provisioned among multivendor systems and components.

Systems and software vendors participating in the UNI/NNI interoperability demos included:

Several carrier experts on hand for the demo say it shows progress is being made in the optical switching market and that some of the equipment is coming closer to deployment in incumbent networks.

Vishnu Shukla, a member of the technical research staff at Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), says his company has been actively testing some of the optical gear for nearly two years, and there would be deployments in the next “one to two years.” He said a standards-based optical control plane has the potential to create a massive new market that could some day rival that of Sonet.

“If you look at Sonet, it came around in 1992, and the economy was not that good, but a standard interface allowed it to keep growing and now it’s a $300 billion market,” says Shukla.

Optical mesh networks based on the OIF standards do hold some clear advantages over Sonet by enabling automated customer provisioning and bandwidth control. But with much of the talk at OFC revolving around next-gen Sonet technology, many experts said large incumbent carriers will continue to be more comfortable with Sonet and that any migration to next-gen optical switching will be slow.

”The PLL work is more important in the near term because it supports ongoing migration to next-generation Sonet,” says Scott Clavenna, president of PointEast Research LLC.

The PLL demo included implementation agreements (IAs) for system packet interfaces for physical- and link-layer devices; SerDes framer interfaces between OC192 Sonet framers and SerDes components; Very Short Reach (VSR) interfaces for OC192; tunable lasers; and TDM switch fabric-to-framer interfaces. Components vendors involved in the PLL demo included

For more information, see related newswires posted at Light Reading: — R. Scott Raynovich, US Editor, Light Reading

For up-to-date information about the OFC Conference, please visit Light Reading’s Unauthorized OFC Preview Site.

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