White Rock: 'Let's Get Small'
Just two months after announcing its first product (see White Rock: Heavy Metal?), Dallas-based White Rock Networks today announced its second: a small form-factor OC192 (10 Gbit/s) add/drop multiplexer (ADM) for metro Sonet networks (see White Rock Develops Mini Mux).
Of course, announcing products is easy. Finding customers to pay for them is much harder, and that's White Rock's next task.
"We have a handful of customers in trial now with our first products," says Lonnie Martin, White Rock's CEO, who adds that the company is "four to six weeks away" from being able to name names. When that happens, the company will finally have some proof that its modular component strategy could gain some acceptance in the ultra-competitive market for next-generation Sonet gear.
Michael Howard, principal analyst at Infonetics Research Inc., says that if White Rock's equipment delivers as advertised the company might well find takers.
"There are 100,000 Sonet rings in North America, so there's always market potential," Howard says. "And small is always good."
According to White Rock, its OC192 ADM, called the VLX2020, will take up just two standard telecom rack units of space (a height of 3.5 inches), which the company claims is one-fifth the size of the smallest competitive OC192 gear. Small form factor, Martin says, will be one of White Rock's calling cards as it butts heads with successful competitor offerings, like Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) ONS 15454, the box that came with the Cerent acquisition.
"In the metro market there are lots of situations where small, cost-effective, and flexible are some of the most important things to give a customer," Martin says. "The Cerent gear has certainly been successful, but we believe there's space in that market for another vendor."
Of course, White Rock needs to get in line behind other manufacturers targeting the same space, a list that includes Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK) and Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN), as well as legacy Sonet leaders Fujitsu Ltd. (KLS: FUJI.KL) and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU).
Martin, a former president of the broadband business group at ADC Telecommunications Inc. (Nasdaq: ADCT), says White Rock will target "the major players" in the service-provider business, and not smaller CLECs, with both its previously announced OC48 (2.5 Gbit/s) product and its new OC192 box.
According to Andrew Knott, White Rock's vice president of marketing, the company's VLX2010 OC48 box will sell for between $30,000 and $40,000 per unit, depending on volume. The company hasn't announced pricing for the VLX2020.
Earlier this week, White Rock announced that it will also provide a software-based optical control plane for its products, which the company says will adhere to the optical User-Network Interface (UNI) standard being developed by the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) (see White Rock Offers Control Plane). In theory, the UNI will allow data networking equipment to dynamically set up connections across an optical network, drastically reducing the time it takes to provision circuits.
Though OIF is staging a UNI interoperability demo at the upcoming Supercomm 2001 show, White Rock won't be a participant. According to Knott, the company wasn't prepared to meet the pre-show deadlines for the demonstration, which would have required a commitment while White Rock was still in stealth mode. White Rock, however, will exhibit at the show.
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- Paul Kapustka, Editor at Large, Light Reading