Optical/IP Networks

Photuris, Meriton Unveil Metro Wares

Two announcements today point to the growing interest in merging Sonet with DWDM capabilities in metro networking gear. They also highlight some key variations in emerging equipment.

Photuris Inc., which has been in stealth mode since its inception, today announced its first product, a system that combines DWDM with Sonet transport for use in metro networks (see Photuris Debuts Metro System).

Another startup, the more visible Meriton Networks Inc., has unveiled an optical add/drop switch with integrated DWDM and CWDM functionality. The company also announced executive changes and the opening of an office in Europe.

Meriton will be showing its new products at the upcoming Supercomm 2002 trade show in Atlanta. Photuris also will be there, but not on the show floor: Instead, the vendor plans to meet a select group of potential customers in private.

Both vendors claim their wares will eventually enable carriers to save significant costs in metro networks.

Here's why: Today, most Sonet gear is maintained independently of DWDM system and switches. A Sonet add/drop multiplexer, for instance, may be deployed alongside a DWDM transport unit, with a switch interacting with each.

To get everything working in sync -- to provision a set of private lines over specific wavelengths in a metro ring, for instance -- demands adjustments of connectivity, power, and bandwidth all 'round. It's a process that's costly, complicated, and time consuming.

In different ways, today's announcements purport to improve the situation:

  • Photuris is offering a transport solution for metro rings. It says its box combines Sonet add/drop multiplexing with DWDM, meant to replace the separate Sonet ADMs and DWDM gear that inhabit today's metro networks.

    Dubbed the Optical Distribution System, Photuris's box maps data traffic to channels or wavelengths via the same system in order to support wave, packet, and circuit-based services with one device. The box grooms individual STS1 (52 Mbit/s) Sonet channels onto wavelengths; it can assign bandwidth onto single wavelengths optically, without optical-to-electrical conversion.

    Photuris is set to compete with current DWDM suppliers -- such as Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) -- that still rely on Sonet ADMs. Photuris also is taking aim at ONI Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ONIS) and at newer companies like PhotonEx Corp., which purport to carve up wavelengths into usable increments on command (see A New Optical Taxonomy, page 4).

    The Photuris box has a capacity of up to 320 Gbit/s of protected 10-Gbit/s connections. Besides supporting Sonet/SDH to 10 Gbit/s, it will support Gigabit Ethernet, FSAN, and Ficon connectivity, Photuris says.

    On the business side, Photuris has raised $75 million to date and has about 125 employees. Its executive team includes CEO Mike Pisterzi (ex-AccessLAN Communications Inc. and Alcatel SA); COO Bill Gartner (ex-Lucent Technologies Inc.); and VP of Marketing Ashish Vengsarkar (ex-Lucent and Bell Labs).

  • Meriton says its 7200 OADX adds an optical crossconnect to a DWDM multiplexer. Unlike Photuris, Meriton isn't intent on reworking Sonet to support wave, circuit, and packet-based services. Instead, Meriton is focused primarily on switching of wavelengths. Its 7200 is meant to be used as a "transparent wavelength switch," eliminating the need to convert a growing roster of network services to Sonet before transporting or switching them. In contrast, Meriton says lots of carriers today have separate networks for Sonet, ATM, Gigabit Ethernet, and storage area networking (SAN), each with its own kind of switching equipment.

    Due to its focus on lower-layer wavelength switching, Meriton does not provide any STS1 grooming or TDM interfaces. Instead, it switches a range of different traffic types wholesale across DWDM channels, replacing combinations of switches and/or DWDM gear and their accompanying Sonet ADMs.

    Meriton's switch works alongside Ethernet or SAN gear, which feed it fiber -- to which it applies DWDM and switching. It competes with other newcomers like Movaz Networks Inc. (see A New Optical Taxonomy, page 5).

    Meriton's 7200 OADX can handle up to 128 2.7-Gbit/s wavelengths that are fully protected in a single-shelf chassis, the vendor says. Up to four shelves can be interconnected in a nonblocking setup capable of handling 512 wavelengths. Meriton says 10-Gbit/s wavelength support will be added in a second release due out early next year.

    On the business side, Meriton, which has about 100 employees, has raised $29 million in funding (see Edgeflow Becomes Meriton). It just promoted its COO, Michael Gassewitz, to the CEO position, moving former CEO Wes Biggs to chairman of the board. It's also opened a European headquarters in Bristol, U.K.

Experts say the two approaches to simplifying the existing metro setup represented by Photuris and Meriton are competitive at the moment but eventually may split into more distinct categories.

In the meantime, each vendor has its eye on the next step -- adoption by carriers. Both claim to have "significant traction" among incumbent carriers, although Meriton, ready to demonstrate its product, appears further along in the process of making its claims a reality.

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.comFor more information on Supercomm 2002, please visit: Supercomm Special

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