Ocular Targets Storage with CWDM

Ocular Networks Inc. looks to be bending over backwards and sideways to make its optical networking product more flexible. On Monday at the Supercomm 2001 tradeshow in Atlanta, the company plans to announce that it’s adding coarse wavelength-division multiplexing (CWDM) to its access switch. This feature will give service providers the option of conserving fiber or offering storage area networking (SAN) services.

The company currently has two products: the OSX-6000 and the smaller OSX-1000 (see Ocular Gets $30M in Second Round). Like other switches in the multiservice provisioning market, the OSX family can aggregate wide ranges of traffic -- including TDM, IP, and ATM (time-division multiplexing, Internet protocol, and asynchronous transfer mode) -- and multiplex it onto fiber. But Ocular says its OSX can handle all these formats in a single switch fabric. This approach makes it easier and faster to provision T1 (1.544 Mbit/s) circuits, says Doug Green, vice president of marketing for Ocular.

Now Ocular is adding a shelf that attaches to the OSX-6000 or the OSX-1000 to provide CWDM. This feature opens carriers up to a variety of applications. For one, it can help them conserve fiber strands, by allowing each fiber to be broken up into eight wavelengths for transporting traffic. It also will allow carriers to offer high-end customers dedicated wavelength services. And it gives carriers the opportunity to offer SAN services, because protocols like Fibre Channel need their own wavelengths.

CDWM is much cheaper than DWDM (dense WDM), which is used by companies like ONI Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ONIS), Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN), Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), and Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR) to transport traffic. CWDM uses less expensive and less finely tuned lasers -- which means that fewer wavelengths can be used.

Michael Kennedy, a managing partner at the consulting firm Network Strategy Partners LLC, says service providers aren’t too interested in CWDM for the metro. Why? Even though CWDM is cheaper than DWDM, it is still more expensive than the alternative, which is to lay new fiber. The reason is that distances in the metro are so short that carriers can dig up streets and lay more cable with hundreds of fibers in them for roughly the same cost as adding 10 or 12 wavelengths on a CWDM system, he says.

“The distances aren’t long enough to really make it worth their while. But some carriers are saying that this could be the year that the two technologies break even. If that’s true, it could be good timing for Ocular.”

Ocular’s Green concedes that CWDM won’t be a big factor in winning new deals. “This isn’t the core function of our product,” he says. “It’s not going to be something that makes or breaks us. But it will make our product more flexible.”

The new CWDM shelf is in trials now and will be generally available in June. Ocular hasn’t announced any customers yet, but Green says he expects to make some announcements in June.

- Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading

For more information on Supercomm 2001, please visit the Light Reading Supercomm 2001 Site.

coolhand 12/4/2012 | 8:19:09 PM
re: Ocular Targets Storage with CWDM Seems that the cost advantage of CWDM would be cheaper than laying new fiber at $75K to $750k per mile? I am curious as to where M. Kennedy has the information related to CWDM costing models?

dgindc 12/4/2012 | 8:19:05 PM
re: Ocular Targets Storage with CWDM I think he might be using 1999 cost figures. CWDM and low-end DWDM prices have been going through the floor. CWDM costs are now as low as $10k per protected lambda, so with 20nm spacing and 4 protected wavelengths, that's a total cost of $40k. A 10-12 mile fiber run will cost at least $500k.
dpgreen 12/4/2012 | 8:19:02 PM
re: Ocular Targets Storage with CWDM There are certainly many cases where fiber is more cost effective. However, service providers can't simply run out and dig up the streets overnight every time they get a new customer. There are cases where speed of deployment becomes an issue. This kind of function allows service providers to go after wavelength based services on an opportunistic basis.

In addition, not all providers lay their own fiber. Some are comparing the cost of leasing multiple fibers versus CWDM/DWDM. Basically, the fiber/DWDM/CWDM decision has to be made on a case by case basis.

dchappuies 12/4/2012 | 8:18:48 PM
re: Ocular Targets Storage with CWDM Why would a company want to use CWDM if it isn't currently expandable to long haul? It seems like it could be a short time solution.
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