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Optical/IP

Sycamore Spiffs Up Its Switch

Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR) is scheduled to announce some improvements to its SN16000 optical switch this morning. The improvements aren’t exactly mind-boggling, although they might hit the spot with carriers under continuing pressure to cut capital and operating expenditure.

The improvements include:

  • A single chassis “SC” version of the SN16000 that has 64x64 OC48 (2.5 Gbit/s) ports or a correspondingly larger number of lower-speed ports. This takes up a half a bay in an equipment rack, unlike the larger versions of the SN16000, which take up multiple bays and can scale to a larger number of ports. The SN16000 SC is already shipping.

  • A high-density line card that can pack 24 OC3 (155 Mbit/s) or OC12 (622 Mbit/s) connections into a single slot in the SN16000. Sycamore claims this is three times the density of the equivalent module from Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN), the market leader. Ciena says that its equivalent card can handle 16 OC3 or OC12 connections and that it outguns Sycamore on the number of connections per bay. Sycamore cites 192 connections per half bay, and Ciena cites 256.

  • Intermediate-reach optics. The use of more powerful lasers enables Sycamore to integrate metro and regional transmission systems into the SN16000, eliminating the need for standalone DWDM gear. Other grooming switches currently use short-range optics and can't do this, according to Jeff Kiel, vice president and general manager of Sycamore's Core Switching Business Unit. Ciena refutes this, saying it already has intermediate and long-reach optics.

  • Integration with add/drop multiplexers (ADMs). This software improvement enables the SN16000 to sit on the same ring as ADMs and control them, using a “multi-user data communication channel.” So far, the SN16000 can only work with one particular ADM, the ONS 15454 from Cisco Systems Inc.(Nasdaq: CSCO).

  • Other network management improvements. One enables engineers to override automatic provisioning so they can set up connections manually if necessary (something engineers often want to do in real life, according to Kiel). Another gives carriers a real-time view of traffic trends and utilization levels of their infrastructure. Up until now, carriers have had to use historical data, which is often old and hard to analyze, according to Sycamore.

    Whether this is enough to help Sycamore catch up with Ciena remains to be seen. Ciena now has 29 customers for is CoreDirector switch, while Sycamore has eight for its SN3000 and SN16000. Mind you, Sycamore was late to the party, and at least three of its customers are monster carriers -- Bell South, NTT Corp., and Vodafone Group PLC.

    Vodafone, one of the biggest mobile telephone operators in the world, is particularly interesting, in that it’s rolling out a switched optical network, even though nearly all of its traffic is voice at present.

    — Peter Heywood, Founding Editor, Light Reading
    http://www.lightreading.com For more on optical switches, register for Light Reading's ground-breaking Webinar on the topic, scheduled for Thursday, Jan 24.

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    Northern Optics 12/4/2012 | 10:59:17 PM
    re: Sycamore Spiffs Up Its Switch All is still quiet on the Sycamore front....I've not heard anything about their European operations. Looking forward to Feb. 12....
    trixie 12/4/2012 | 11:01:09 PM
    re: Sycamore Spiffs Up Its Switch Do switches like the CoreDirector or Sycamore 16000 have the ability to eliminate the need for transponders in a metro DWDM interface application? Can they take in a 15xx interface directly into the switch line cards or do they need conversion to 1310 before the switch?
    _______________________________________________

    Colored Optics (15xxnm) have been considered for a long time, as have integrated switching/transport. Most receivers in use are wavelength insensitive, so anything coming in is OK. The outputs can be adapted to provide 15xx or stanbdard SR 1310 light, however, the fun begins when one must integrate the control planes to accomodate line power balancing with the 15xx outputs. Not to mention the additional costs of colored optics.

    This is even more fun betwen a switch like the SN16K and a transport system, as they use different methods of communication. The switch uses in-band OH and the transport, like their SN8K or 10K, uses a 1510nm Optical supervisory channel. Not to mention the different languages they both speak.

    CoreDirector has the same set of challenges, I suspect, as initially the transport and switching controls were intended to remain separate, as most carriers did not want to put all their eggs in a single basket, recognizing that the technologies would develop at independent rates, and fearing an integrated solution would limit them to the lowest common denominator.

    <sigh> the short answer is yes, but it is expensive and tedious to accomplish from a development perspective. This may be less the case in a metro deployment where DWDM transport is not a consideration.

    A downsized OEO switch with tunable 15xx outputs would be a neat application in a metro environment, allowing a lot of flexibility, however, provisioning on demand still means you have to put in (and pay for) all the gear up front, something carriers are loth to do.</sigh>
    trixie 12/4/2012 | 11:01:11 PM
    re: Sycamore Spiffs Up Its Switch That makes 360 Networks gone bust, Storm down to about 80 people and not doing anything and Vodafone not spending - do Sycamore have anymore customers in Europe - even more trouble ahead I think?
    __________________________________________________

    That leaves Utfors and KPNQwest, AFAIK....

    Aside from BellSouth, this looks to tbe the only dollars in the door, as WCG has dried up, too.
    konaboy 12/4/2012 | 11:01:50 PM
    re: Sycamore Spiffs Up Its Switch "The Sycamore 16000 can accept a signal at 1310 or 1550 nm directly."

    I think the original question was essentially "can the SN16000 or the CoreDirector directly accept a signal operating at an ITU grid frequency?"

    In other words, do these devices have transponding OEO interface cards?
    Phanatron 12/4/2012 | 11:02:00 PM
    re: Sycamore Spiffs Up Its Switch The Sycamore 16000 can accept a signal at 1310 or 1550 nm directly.
    blanche 12/4/2012 | 11:02:04 PM
    re: Sycamore Spiffs Up Its Switch "...eliminating the need for standalone DWDM gear"

    Do switches like the CoreDirector or Sycamore 16000 have the ability to eliminate the need for transponders in a metro DWDM interface application? Can they take in a 15xx interface directly into the switch line cards or do they need conversion to 1310 before the switch?

    Thanks.
    erwin 12/4/2012 | 11:02:30 PM
    re: Sycamore Spiffs Up Its Switch Small, but significant error in my post. The first line should have read "I have heard from two customers now that SYCAMORE is closing down all activities in Europe...".


    Author: erwin
    Number: 3
    Subject: Sycamore Contraction
    Date: 1/22/2002 3:00:06 PM

    I have heard from two customers now that Vodafone is closing down all activities in Europe except for the bare minimum support for major existing customers. Can anyone confirm.

    If true this heralds a major retrenchement as well as a significant shutting one one area for growing Sycamore's customer base beyond the existing customers that it is barely retaining today and that have curtailed their deployments of Sycamore kit.

    The next 18 months promise to be a text-book study on cash management and strategy re-definition.
    erwin 12/4/2012 | 11:02:31 PM
    re: Sycamore Spiffs Up Its Switch Excellent humouristic take on the position of the various vendors touting their OXC's. I work for one of them (not Ciena) but would fully agree that you have very accurately captured the state of the market!.
    optical_leaders 12/4/2012 | 11:02:31 PM
    re: Sycamore Spiffs Up Its Switch I can confirm that Vodafone stopped building their UK transport network months ago due to 3G services not being ready to take off.

    That makes 360 Networks gone bust, Storm down to about 80 people and not doing anything and Vodafone not spending - do Sycamore have anymore customers in Europe - even more trouble ahead I think?
    Two 12/4/2012 | 11:02:32 PM
    re: Sycamore Spiffs Up Its Switch announcer:
    Thank you Nigel, let's go back live to the on-going horse race for market dominance in Optical Switching:

    Horse #1 : The CIENA CoreDirector has opened up a commanding lead. It's shipping in massive volume to 29 customers and is deployed in ring and mesh networks all over the planet. Carriers can take confidence that this product has been through intense qualification in the labs of some of the world's most demanding carriers for their most critical applications. Polished and sure, this horse continues to wow even the most skeptical of crowd members.

    Horse #2 : The Sycamore SN16000 after spending a year nursing "hardware problems" has finally entered the fray in reduced form and is deployed in limited fashion in a small number of carriers (Bell South MIX = automated patch panel). However, while its powerpoint skills have been impressive, not one major core network provider has dared risk his/her life savings on putting this "syckly" animal on a traffic-bearing ring or mesh. Despite raucous cries about "the wonders of GMPLS," and "software core-competencies" [Bingo!] there won't be any spring in this animal's step until 2004-2005. Let's hope this contender can stop the bleeding (of cash) long enough to finish second. [This just in: Tellabs might swoop in and perform a mercy killing]

    Horse #3 : The Tellium Aurora started first, but is long behind the first two. In fact, the jockey has stopped to argue that there has been some mistake. He should, in fact, be in a completely different race ("Core Grooming") all by itself (where he can claim to be the winner!). There was initially some confusion about this because of excellent wordsmithing and hairsplitting on the part of their marketing team, but key crowdmembers seemed to have changed their bets (C+W, Qwest) and this horse continues to run in circles.

    Horse #4 : The Nortel HDX lingers in the starting gate. This horse looks large and impressive, but its jockey has dismounted to argue with the crowd that the other four horses will surely stumble and fall on their faces so it doesn't matter how long it takes him to get under way. However, several crowdmemebers have been fooled before by this jocky's FUD and empty beercans and rotten vegetables are beginning to rain down on the hapless man and his steed. Key crowdmembers are beginning to wonder if the horse is even real at all, or just a cardboard cutout.

    Horse #5 : The Corvis OCS has barricaded itself in the clubhouse and is taking massive tokes from a bong filled with Hubris.

    Just thought I'd add some humor...

    ..
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