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Optical/IP

Optical Switch Test: Ready to Roll

Light Reading today stepped up the pressure on vendors to participate in its planned test of optical grooming switches by publishing the final version of the test plan at the same time as unveiling widespread support for the test among service providers.

The test is being undertaken by BTexact Technologies, the advanced technology division of British Telecom (BT) (NYSE: BTY), using test equipment from Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A).

The idea is to evaluate the performance of optical grooming switches now that several companies have launched equipment that competes with the market leader, the CoreDirector from Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN).

In order to do this, Light Reading has invited each vendor to build a small network of four switches in BTexact's lab so that its gear can be evaluated in conditions as close as possible to those of a real live commercial network. Vendors don't have to pay to participate in the test -- an issue considered vital to the integrity of results according to a recent poll in Light Reading (see Testing Testing).

A test plan describing this in glorious detail has now been finalized, following consultations with vendors. It can be downloaded as a PDF file by clicking here.

Light Reading's efforts to shed light on the pros and cons of today's grooming switches has won widespread support from service providers. Close to 40 of them responded to a request to express their support for this project, by sending messages to Light Reading. Smaller service providers probably have more to gain from the tests because they often wouldn't have the resources to undertake their own evaluations. However, representatives from several major carriers also sent in messages of support. They include:

  • France Telecom SA
  • SingTel
  • Metromedia Fiber Network Inc. (MFN) (Nasdaq: MFNX)
  • WorldCom Inc. (Nasdaq: WCOM)
  • Level 3 Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: LVLT)

    — Peter Heywood, Founding Editor, Light Reading
    http://www.lightreading.com Want to know more? The big cheeses of the optical networking industry will be discussing this very topic at Opticon 2002, Light Reading’s annual conference, being held in San Jose, California, August 19-22. Check it out at Opticon 2002.

    Register now and save $500 off the registration fee. Just use the VIP Code C2PT1LHT on your registration form, and deduct $500 from the published conference fee. It's that simple!

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    puddnhead_wilson 12/4/2012 | 10:08:26 PM
    re: Optical Switch Test: Ready to Roll gea: Thank you for the reply, you make some interesting points. However I still maintain that, in the present fiscal environment, many vendors can find wiser uses of their time and money than setting up a network for LR. If some decline I think that will be the primary reason, not "fear of being exposed." I just hope LR doesn't keep trying to play it up that way ... as I feel they have.

    Take care.
    gea 12/4/2012 | 10:08:48 PM
    re: Optical Switch Test: Ready to Roll Pudd'nhead:
    I don't really agree that there's no value in these tests. Of course, any carrier of real size will test any product in their labs prior to deployment, but that does not render the value of these tests useless by any means.

    If nothing else, these tests will kill off or greatly reduce marketing claims that are pretty much bullsh*t, particularly where big-time claims have been made for a switch that have little or no factual basis in reality. And at this stage in the game, this would be very useful in the industry.

    In adition, you might be suprised by the level of knowledge that remains inboth carriers as well as vendors...it is easily possible that there aere major problems with such switches that some cariers might catch, an that BT will (provided they test for the right stuff). Many carriers simply loopback all the interfaces on a switch and then go in with EMS to see if they can do what they want to do. The switch may or may not actually be doing this, but the EMS will display a big smiley face. This is particularly true as knowledgeable and expensive engineers get chopped.

    As someone who used to do similar work for Bellcore/Telcodia, I know there can be a lot of value in this kind of thing, so I think it's kinda ballsy of Lightreading to take such a step deeper into the technical end of things. If they don't screw it up it will be very interesting, to say the least.
    puddnhead_wilson 12/4/2012 | 10:08:50 PM
    re: Optical Switch Test: Ready to Roll >Besides you don't think the real purpose of the test would be to attract readers to a sensationalistic expose' of optical switches performance just to drive ad revenues on the web site, do you?

    LOL. I'm trying to imagine why any vendor would want to even bother. They all want to spend those precious marketing dollars demonstrating for someone who actually might BUY. And anyone who might buy (if such an animal even exists today) ain't gonna pay much attention to what LR says anyway, their gonna do their own research and testing.

    Vendors signing up for this IMO is equivalent to the idea of Lockheed-Martin & Boeing submitting their Joint Strike Fighter designs to Consumer Reports for evaluation. The Pentagon wouldn't gonna give a hoot what Consumer Reports says, and carriers won't care much more about LR's conclusions.

    But as Scott keeps telling me, whadda I know :)
    DoTheMath 12/4/2012 | 10:08:54 PM
    re: Optical Switch Test: Ready to Roll Eyesright wrote...

    eyesright>>"They consider their products to contain a lot of intellectual property.

    >>If I follow your line of reasoning then they should publish their source code for all to see."

    gea>You missed my point completely. The funtional tests being performed under the auspices of Lightreading will only determine what these products actually DO, not HOW they do them.
    --------------------------------------

    gea: eyesright actually didn't miss the point. He is carefully fudging the distinction between WHAT and HOW - and breezily throw in "Linux" etc so people will think LRs testing means companies have to give up their crown jewels.

    It is a very old sales trick to assert intellectual property concerns to hide the fact that you don't have a competitive product. As LR disclosed, eyesright has something to lose if independent testing evaluates companies products. As eyeright himself put it, "this will lead to commoditization" - what he means is that this will lead to loss of puffed up margins that salesmen can conjure for non-existent or useless product features. Eyesright's job depends on the salesmen "self-certifying" their products to claim such "differentiation" and the puffed up margins.

    If every single customer rationally evaluated products, such tricks would go away. But as every salesman knows, a good number of customers actually don't. It is human nature to tend to BELIEVE or want to believe. Even in products where objective comparison data is widely available (such as cars), good salesmen are able to make a handsome living selling identical product for a lot more than the not-so-good salesmen. The only "added value" in such a case is the ability of the salesman to extract this "value" from the customer.

    I once witnessed a business software salesman telling the customer "We cannot provide you the software. Our software is not the kind that can be put on some CDs (!). It is so advanced that only we can demonstrate it." Some customers actually believed it and bought the software without ever trying it themselves!
    metro_ether_man 12/4/2012 | 10:08:55 PM
    re: Optical Switch Test: Ready to Roll Please excuse my missed spelled words!
    metro_ether_man 12/4/2012 | 10:08:55 PM
    re: Optical Switch Test: Ready to Roll Regardless,
    1) The article does not even address
    the stated objective.
    2) Cyndicated, purchased testing can be biased.
    3) I will always reguire my engineers do design,
    which SOME testing. I will always require my
    Test Engieers, to do formal testing. It's to easy
    for someone to fudge, fake out or mis interpret
    standards and specifications. This service is very critical to our R&D and Engineering teams.
    4) Independent Testing if done at all, is just
    PR/Marketing.
    metro_ether_man 12/4/2012 | 10:08:55 PM
    re: Optical Switch Test: Ready to Roll First, I do appreciate (some) of the articles, reports and material LR writes/posts.

    In my opinion, which is highly regarded and sought. This article has no merit or reference
    to the primary objective the author states as
    "The idea is to evaluate the performance of optical grooming switches".

    Maybe it should have read "The idea is to evaluate the Operations Administration & Maintenance (OAM) of optical groming switches".
    Which is outside the scope of the stated objectives. The Test's are geared toward OAM issues.

    There is no honorable mention of specifications, standards and performance issues associated with Sonet or grooming.

    Possibly the reason that vendors do not want to participate, is they don't want to be subjected or envolved with untruthful publicity.

    It is obvious to me that the majority of posters
    have "no freaking clue" what thier talking about.

    I have read many articles from you in the past, which the tecnical content has been accurate, useful and fun to read.

    Please be literal.
    sigint 12/4/2012 | 10:08:55 PM
    re: Optical Switch Test: Ready to Roll their SN-16000 is good grooming switch or not, if compare with ciena?

    have any idea about it?
    __________________________________________________

    Haven't they canned that product ? I heard it happened after the tie-up with Seimens.
    gea 12/4/2012 | 10:08:59 PM
    re: Optical Switch Test: Ready to Roll Eyesright wrote...

    "They consider their products to contain a lot of intellectual property.

    If I follow your line of reasoning then they should publish their source code for all to see."

    You missed my point completely. The funtional tests being performed under the auspices of Lightreading will only determine what these products actually DO, not HOW they do them. And since they are after all only cross connects, how can we say that the fact that Vendor X only cross connects down to the STS-3c level be "intellectual property? (I have worked for one of the companies you mentioned and I can say there's no intellectual property involved in what, say, the 5500 is able to do. How it does it is a different matter, but I doubt they'll be taking apart these boxes and trying to hack the FPGAs inside, for instance.)

    And even if you want to claim this is intellectual property, who cares? If a carrier needs STS-1, they won't buy a product that only does STS-3c. No mystery or IP issue there. (And in any event, I doubt Lightreading will risk breaking any intellectual property laws to run these tests, so don't lose any sleep over them).



    DoTheMath 12/4/2012 | 10:09:04 PM
    re: Optical Switch Test: Ready to Roll Bet you own a 503 bakelite black rotary, and secretly wish long distance was 60 cents a minute again. Keep poundin' away on that vintage IBM PC with the 286 processor (how do you keep the web pages up?).

    ----------------------------------------------

    Just bought a Lexus 430 on the Internet. I had 3-4 dealers bidding, and picked the lowest bid. Some sales guys attempted to tell me why I should pick them even though they are $2K more expensive. It was fun listening to the arguments.

    It is fun listening to your arguments here too ....



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