ADVA in for the Long Haul With 100G

After a good year in the metro market, ADVA decides it's time to compete with the long-haul brigade. But it faces some challenges

February 28, 2011

3 Min Read
ADVA in for the Long Haul With 100G

Having positioned itself firmly as a metro transport vendor of some note and size, and having just reported its best sales year ever, ADVA Optical Networking is launching itself into the long-haul market with Agile Core Express, a 100Gbit/s coherent optical extension of its existing FSP 3000 platform. (See ADVA Optical Reports Q4.)

The new platform, which ADVA says is designed for "close interworking with the IP/MPLS layer," comprises three key elements: a 100Gbit/s Coherent optical layer that is exclusively optimized for 100 Gbit/s, and not slower line rates; a Reconfigurable Optical Add/Drop Multiplexer (ROADM) that supports Colorless, Directionless, Contentionless and Gridless configurations; and an integrated control plane for end-to-end provisioning and service management.

Is that enough for ya?

ADVA CTO Christoph Glingener says this is a "major step into long haul" for the company, which believes it can differentiate itself from the market with a combination of smart amplifier design, OA&M attributes such as auto-fiber detection and auto loss detection, multi-layer end-to-end management, and what ADVA believes is the first ROADM to market with contentionless and gridless implementations. "Ease of use and flexibility -– these are our key differentiators," says Glingener.

Certainly in terms of the ROADM attributes, ADVA appears to be running near the front of the pack. (See Market Spotlight: ROADMs.)

But where have all these capabilities come from? Well, ADVA is working with a partner for the 100Gbit/s technology (it won't identify its supplier), but the rest is in-house, with the ROADM and control-plane smarts deriving from the company's 2006 acquisition of Movaz Networks. (See ADVA to Marry Movaz.)

So why now for the long-haul move? Glingener says ADVA, which already has 100Gbit/s experience in the metro sector (it has an ongoing trial with a Tier 1 European operator), believes the metro and long-haul sectors will merge, so extending its metro platform into the core with 10 Gbit/s capabilities is a natural step. "There is a lot of tendering activity in the metro plus long-haul area," says the CTO.

The Agile Core Express will be ready for commercial availability in the third quarter this year, so is anyone trying out the long-haul 100Gbit/s capabilities just now? No, says Glingener, though it clearly has some carrier supporters: Germany's Versatel AG is "a long-term partner" with which ADVA works on its long-haul developments.

Not surprisingly, ADVA expects to make some headway in Europe with its new platform, and also fancies its chances in Asia/Pacific. And its ambitions don't stop there: "We are also targeting North America -– we think we can effectively compete there," says Glingener.

That might be wishful thinking, though, notes Heavy Reading senior analyst Sterling Perrin, who says that ADVA has struggled to make any headway in North America to date even with its metro solutions. In the meantime, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN), both of which are strong in North America, are already in the market with their 100Gbit/s coherent products.

That's not to say ADVA doesn't have what it takes in terms of technology, notes the analyst: The company is capable of delivering and has the experience to extend beyond the metro market.

Its biggest challenges, though, are going to be in market perception and having to rely on a partner for its 100Gbit/s capabilities. "It's at a disadvantage, not having its own 100Gbit/s product because it's at the mercy of its partner, and you have to have 100 Gbit/s to compete in long-haul now," notes the analyst.

In addition, "ADVA is regarded as a metro transport company, and that's an issue -- its biggest problem is going to be market perception," reckons Perrin.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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