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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    eyesright 12/4/2012 | 10:09:04 PM
    re: Optical Switch Test: Ready to Roll Do The Math,

    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?).

    The auto industry uses branding and styling to differentiate. You will should pay very little above cost for a Ford Escort, Chevy Cavalier, or Dodge Neon - these are commodities.

    Want a new Lexus retro-coupe? How well you negotiate and form a "business relationship" will determine if you get it.

    They aren't commodities.
    eyesright 12/4/2012 | 10:09:05 PM
    re: Optical Switch Test: Ready to Roll Gea,

    I think that the fine folk at Tellabs and Alcatel (including the ex-DSC lawyers in Plano, Texas that protect said intellectual property so vigorously), would disagree. These two companies probably control 80+% of the cross connect market in the US.

    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.

    Just like Linux, eh?
    eyesright 12/4/2012 | 10:09:05 PM
    re: Optical Switch Test: Ready to Roll Peter,

    Given that the test document does not detail tests to be run against BT's OSS systems - these include a number that are specific to customer care, restoration, and alarming - it's not representative of what a carrier would need to perform for integration (or qualification) into the network. What you have is basic functional layer tests that are normally done in a vendors own lab by carrier personnel, necessary - but not terribly valuable (also referred to as entrance criteria).

    Have BT publish the OSS test stub api's (probably won't happen - it's very intellectual property). This would make it a true carrier integration test.

    Pints and golf at Ufford Park?
    eyesright 12/4/2012 | 10:09:05 PM
    re: Optical Switch Test: Ready to Roll Lightwave,

    How right you are.

    Most carriers, even larger ones (especially the smaller ones), conduct the first round of testing in the vendorGÇÖs lab (also known as entrance criteria). They normally send personnel from the labs tasked with final qualification to perform initial testing. This is often a subset of the vendors own system test. For new suppliers it is often a 75% regression of the vendorGÇÖs own test cases, plus some blind ones.

    Why would they do this? Testing involves more than gear. It includes customer support, supply chain analysis, and understanding whom you are doing business with. A GÇ£disinterested third partyGÇ¥ canGÇÖt test these items.
    gea 12/4/2012 | 10:09:06 PM
    re: Optical Switch Test: Ready to Roll (Begin quote)
    The industry doesn't need a third party to put intellectual property in the "public domain",
    (End Quote)

    Gotta disagree here. We're talking about cross connects and switches, right? It's not magic. Knowing what a switch or DCS or OXC actually does is not "intellectual property" in this case. If a switch can't actually cross connect down to the STS-1 level, that isn't intellectual property at all, is it?

    In this case, intellectual property is really HOW you do something, not WHAT you do.
    Litewave 12/4/2012 | 10:09:08 PM
    re: Optical Switch Test: Ready to Roll That picking and chosing becomes a lot easier after Light Reading's test.

    I disagree for one simple reason you gents are completely missing.

    Every vendor has a lab of their own. And every vendor will lobby the Carrier to come visit their lab. Often times a list of tests cases are demonstrated at the vendors labs.

    Sure, tests cases in the vendors own labs can be fudged, but only the dumb Carriers can't see past them.

    Bottomline, its quite easy for Carriers today to narrow down the list of contenders to no more than 2 or 3 if they so choose.
    billy_fold 12/4/2012 | 10:09:08 PM
    re: Optical Switch Test: Ready to Roll DoTheMath,

    It's not exactly like buying a car. It's more like buying a custom home. Each carrier wants features and configurations that another carrier wouldn't care about. Some carriers may require a software release designed specifically for that carrier.

    DoTheMath 12/4/2012 | 10:09:14 PM
    re: Optical Switch Test: Ready to Roll >2) Carriers that have an economic interest in deploying optical switches should work with those vendors who spend their time and money in building a business relationship.


    >The industry doesn't need a third party in between manufacturers and carriers. The industry doesn't need a third party to drive commodization of a very complex specialized product - commodization is one of our problems today. The industry doesn't need a third party to put intellectual property in the "public domain", thereby further reducing risk capital investment into our industry, and curbing the cycle of innovation.


    Neither of these points are valid if you are either a CARRIER or an END CUSTOMER. These points make sense only if you are an equipment supplier salesman. Point number 3 is exactly what a sales guy would tell his carrier customers, and exactly what they should watch their wallet on. Very often this "business relationship" thing is built in smoke and mirrors (aka pushy sales and marketing). The customer is the one who ends up robbed.

    Now for the "the industry does not need a third party" that is your opinion. As an industry participant, I would love to have a neutral third party (which LR qualifies) mediate these claims and counter-claims. Heck, by reading LR, I am already giving them the power to educate me on facts and ficion. If I do not like the results they produce because I suspect their process, I will stop reading them. As for "commoditization", that is EXACTLY what this industry needs, regardless of whether it hurts our paychecks or not. Carriers and through them end users will win big, and that is the ultimate test of any capitalist system. If your high margins arise due to smoke and mirrors and not real competitive edge, well, tough luck.

    By the way eyesright, don't you buy your cars after consulting the Blue Book, getting the invoice price from the internet, and reading all the opinions of the various magazines? Or do you let a sales guy at your friendly neighborhood dealer "educate" you and build a "business relationship" with you?

    Way to go LR. Because I know the tricks of the trade well, I could see through most posters who oppose these tests. It is very obvious they have something to lose.

    By the way, I do not have a horse in this race. I don't work for anyone with an optical switch, but I am interested in LRs process. I hope this will spread to the other corners of the industry.

    Peter Heywood 12/4/2012 | 10:09:14 PM
    re: Optical Switch Test: Ready to Roll "Vendors - whether they are public or private - spend their own investors money and time in gaining traction from carriers. This is in their economic interest. It protects the intellectual property that their investors have put their risk capital on the line for."

    I've discussed how this works within British Telecom with Russell Davey, the person in charge of our switch test at BTexact.

    In BT's case, BT has to pay BTexact to evaluate switches and such evaluations aren't cheap, bearing in mind that they can take several months. As a result, BT isn't in a position where it can ask BTexact to evaluate lots of switches. It has to pick and chose.

    That picking and chosing becomes a lot easier after Light Reading's test.
    billy_fold 12/4/2012 | 10:09:15 PM
    re: Optical Switch Test: Ready to Roll Eyesright,

    Wait a minute. Wouldn't your plan preempt the LR test? That's not very sporting of you.


    BTW, how did you get one more chevron than me?
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