Sycamore Intros Metro Switch

Product gap filler seen by one analyst as too little, too late

September 25, 2007

3 Min Read
Sycamore Intros Metro Switch

By debuting its SN 9000 Intelligent Multiservice Switch this week, Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR) hopes to capture a fast-growing market for applications in the 80-Gbit/s to 320-Gbit/s range. (See Sycamore Intros Switch.)

The vendor aims to do this by offering a flexible optical switch it says extends the functionality of its core switching platform and "right sizes" it for metro and regional networks.

The SN 9000 fills a hole in the company's product portfolio between its SN 3000 optical edge switch and the SN 16000 core optical switch.

With an ETSI footprint that fits inside a 19-inch rack, the SN 9000 is designed to support low-order and high-order switching, add-drop multiplexing, advanced Ethernet services, and integrated optical transport.

The product offers a number of features, including the ability to run any service on any port without changing the facility interface and the ability to use any card in any slot without any physical limitations.

But the key selling point to the product is its flexible bandwidth licensing scheme.

Each SN 9000 switch ships with a built-in 320-Gbit/s capacity, but customers don't need to purchase all that capacity at once. Instead, they can choose to deploy the switch at 80 Gbit/s, 160 Gbit/s, or 320 Gbit/s, depending on how much capacity is needed.

If a customer needs to upgrade, it needs only to purchase a software-based bandwidth license, which will allow it to scale up the capacity without making any physical changes to the hardware.

While Heavy Reading analyst Sterling Perrin says the SN 9000 is a "useful product to have in the Sycamore portfolio," he says the announcement was a bit of a disappointment.

"I'm definitely underwhelmed by the announcement," Perrin says. "In terms of capacity, you can see why they would add it. They have the 3000 at the low end and the 16000 at the high end and this fits in between them. But it's not really in line with some of the next generation of trends that we're seeing."

Included in those trends is the move to convergence in metro and regional networks centered around moving transport and switching onto a single device. This is being borne out by packet optical transport systems from companies like Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY), and Nortel Networks Ltd. , which are gaining significant carrier interest. (See Packet Optical Market Set to Explode.)

Perrin adds: "This product is counter to that trend. So it looks to me like this is behind the times. It's almost as if they put this on the shelf for a couple of years and now they're bringing it out. It would have been more innovative three years ago."

While Perrin believes the SN 9000 may have a short shelf-life as a standalone product, Ovum RHK Inc. analyst Ron Kline says the crossconnect may not be done as a standalone device.

"That doesn't mean that Sycamore couldn't add that functionality to this device. They could add a ROADM to this device if they wanted to," Kline says.

— Ryan Lawler, Reporter, Light Reading

Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Optical Expo 2007, a conference and exhibition that will explore critical issues facing the optical networking industry. To be staged in Dallas, October 2 & 3, admission is free for attendees meeting our prequalification criteria. For more information, or to register, click here.

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