Sonet: Who's Ahead in Long Haul?

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) announced yesterday that it's leading the North American market for long-haul Sonet OC48 products, based on figures from RHK Inc. The figures were published in the market research firm's January 2001 report, "SONET Transport and DCS Long-Haul SONET Market Forecast." OC48 links support 2.5-Gbit/s in carrier networks.

North American Long Haul Sonet OC48 Market Cisco's announcement is interesting for several reasons. First, it demonstrates the priority Cisco's assigned to gaining a significant toehold in the market for mainstream carrier equipment, a market the company entered seriously less than two years ago with its acquisiton of Cerent Corp.

But Cisco also has raised a bit of confusion. That's because the success of Cisco's Cerent box, now dubbed the ONS 15454, has been chiefly in network edge applications, not in the long-haul part of the net. The ONS 15454 was among the first products to aggregate OC48 links and feed them from carrier points of presence (POPs) to the network core.

It's also notable that Cisco's announcement this week didn't mention a number of other interesting points from RHK's report. For instance, RHK's figures show Nortel Networks Corp., the overall Sonet market leader, breathing down Cisco's neck in long-haul OC48. Just three points separate the two companies' slices of the OC48 pie.

What's more, RHK's report indicates that Cisco's not leading the most lucrative segment of the North American long-haul Sonet market. Sales of Sonet OC192 (10 Gbit/s) gear were $2.763 billion of an overall market of $5.03 billion in 2000 -- more than the $1.944 billion for OC48 (although more OC48 ports actually shipped). And RHK says that OC192 is the fastest-growing segment of the long-haul market.

What's more, Cisco's not on the map at all when it comes to sales of Sonet OC192 links, according to RHK. Instead, Nortel sales account for 95.1 percent of that market, with the rest of the pie divvied up among other players in tiny slivers.

North American Long Haul Sonet OC192 Market Neither Cisco nor Nortel seems eager to emphasize these points -- for different reasons. For its part, Cisco doesn't yet support OC192, and understandably eschews discussing the potential of that market. "We don't talk about unannounced products," a spokesperson says. And although Cisco's talked for months about adding OC192 to the ONS 15454, nothing has materialized so far.

Some analysts other than RHK say Cisco needn't worry too much about OC192 in the metro space -- where its OC48 presence is strongest. "OC192 isn't big in the access space," asserts Seth Spalding, director at Epoch Partners. He says some vendors, such as ONI Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ONIS), offer OC192 as an access option, but he doesn't foresee it taking off there for at least a couple of years.

For its part, Nortel seems to view its leadership in long-haul Sonet OC192 links as a mixed blessing. That's because Nortel would rather publicize figures that show its role in next-generation products via sales of DWDM (dense wavelength-division multiplexing) gear. Ironically, Nortel gave a mixed message last week in announcing its market share in DWDM (see Nortel: Top Dog, but for How Long?) -- just as Cisco did with RHK's figures this week.

In both cases, attempts to pin down one aspect of the market served to emphasize a larger, more complex picture that wasn't initially discussed.

-- Mary Jander, senior editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com

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The Spectre 12/4/2012 | 8:47:13 PM
re: Sonet: Who's Ahead in Long Haul? Funny you should say that. Nortel gained its massive DWDM and OC-192 market share with a not-so-savy provisioning tool. In fact, you fail to realize that Nortel has gained its hugh market share with the same lame software accross the board! What will win is the product which is sold like hell. Cisco had one major carrier convinced to buy a boat load of their product before it even came out!

Superb provisioning software does exist on the Fuji FLM2400 - but they hit the rocks against Nortel a long time ago. Cisco has their great provisioning software - but that's only an enabler.

However, they will not emerge as the winner after the OC-48/OC-192 window is closed (soon). What is winning now are "true next-gen" products.

Will bandwidth play second fiddle? Perhaps what you are trying to say, or should have said is that what will win in the metro edge is a core product. OC-48s and OC-192s don't do it for managing circuits. Cisco and Nortel don't have anything now and are getting vested by Ciena - again. (should have bought them at 17!)

Another thing that Nortel has above anyone else is network management software - par excellance. But it won't help when you aren't hitting the needs of the moment.

flanker 12/4/2012 | 8:47:15 PM
re: Sonet: Who's Ahead in Long Haul? A note to all:

1) We all know the difference between a field and a lab test.

2) Please MENTON exactly who these mysterious core router manufacturers are that have been cut out. (and a note to CORVIS-wavelength switches don't count- it doesnt even have the density to be called a switch for that matter).

3) If these ephemeral core manufacturers actually have a deliverable product, then send a couple of boxes to LR with 200 to 800 line cards (and see if management will sign off on tieing up 90 days inventory) and stop complaining.

fk 12/4/2012 | 8:47:18 PM
re: Sonet: Who's Ahead in Long Haul? An optical switch is not the same as a terabit router. You don't even know what you don't know. Scary.
whatever 12/4/2012 | 8:47:19 PM
re: Sonet: Who's Ahead in Long Haul? "Terabit Router Test Coming in Four Days!

The vendors:

Cisco, Juniper, Foundry, Charlotte's Web"

CORVIS has a proven Terabit router (optical switch) in the field right now that I would like to see compared with your other 4 companies.
rtfm 12/4/2012 | 8:47:21 PM
re: Sonet: Who's Ahead in Long Haul? This might actually be over 90% of the core market, but that is not the point. There are other players who compete with these guys, many who have products shipping in volume.

Point is, if there are other companies who want to (or should) be tested, can these be tested in the future? Unless there were interoperability tests, then given scientific rigor which demands repeatability, can these other boxes be tested identically?

Juspassing 12/4/2012 | 8:47:30 PM
re: Sonet: Who's Ahead in Long Haul? Seems like the article tries to bring Cisco's claim into question - or diminish its importance in the overall optical networking picture. Fair enough, but don't take your readers for fools. Wasn't long ago <not all!="" at="" long=""> that the consensus seemed to be that "Cisco can't do optical - won't be able to."

I think Cisco has something to crow about here. Seems like a steep curve they're on - who knows what they may bring forth to this highly contested market. Wouldn't serve one to cover one's eyes.

Except for the gentleman who sizes things up relative to his grandmother's drawers - son, you should have turned away from that sight.</not>
flanker 12/4/2012 | 8:47:31 PM
re: Sonet: Who's Ahead in Long Haul? What are you talking about? This is 60% to 90% of core router market.

noptera01 12/4/2012 | 8:47:31 PM
re: Sonet: Who's Ahead in Long Haul? We think not.

Nortel quotes LR quoting Greg Mumford here:


alexchilton 12/4/2012 | 8:47:31 PM
re: Sonet: Who's Ahead in Long Haul? "The vendors: Cisco, Juniper, Foundry, Charlotte's Web"

Phil, may I ask: Was anyone invited that declined? Has anyone else asked to be invited? There are a few conspicuous absences, IMHO.

drag 12/4/2012 | 8:47:32 PM
re: Sonet: Who's Ahead in Long Haul? no doubt you've got the latest equipment from the two vendors anyone cares about? Like a Cisco 12416 with new OC192 and QOC48 cards?? And a Juniper M160 with the out-of-order-packets fix? Both loaded full of linecards? Enough test gear to generate full loads? Internet scale routes? Multicast? Some redundancy tests perhaps?

Or is this yet another 3-4 linecards, static routes, single Smartbits, fudfest just waiting to happen?

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