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AlcaLu Preps New Optical Platform

Ray Le Maistre
3/30/2009

Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) is developing a new optical platform to address the growing demand for OTN switching capabilities, Light Reading has learned.

Following our story about Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN)'s plans to introduce a successor to its CoreDirector product that includes OTN (Optical Transport Network) switching capabilities, we contacted AlcaLu to see if it was brewing anything similar. (See Ciena Preps 'CoreDirector 2'.)

Tom Goodwin, head of marketing for the vendor's optical group, confirmed that AlcaLu is "looking at OTN because customers are asking for it. Carriers believe OTN is a good way to transform their networks" for greater applications enablement for their customers, he noted.

Goodwin added that Alcatel-Lucent is "engaged in OTN switching developments just now on one particular product. We expect to make an announcement about these developments later in the summer."

When asked if that "particular product" was perhaps either of the company's current optical crossconnect platforms, the 1675 LambdaUnite or the 1678 Metro Core Connect, Goodwin noted that "we are developing a next-generation product that addresses capacity and future feature requests from our customers, and that will complement and interoperate with the 1675 LU and 1678 MCC."

Goodwin then confirmed that the next-generation product in question is a new platform that's now in development.

OTN capabilities won't be restricted to the new platform, though. Goodwin said AlcaLu is also looking at "introducing OTN compatibility into other products... Carriers see OTN as a good addition to their toolbag to deal with the growing volumes of packet traffic, along with other technologies such as MPLS-TP." MPLS Transport Profile is the emerging packet transport standard behind which Alcatel-Lucent has thrown its weight. (See Transport MPLS Gets a Makeover and Verizon Rethinks Long Haul.)

"Carriers are asking about a lot of developments that will help them deal with the changing traffic patterns, and we'll address those demands. We want to continue to be a leader in optics. We're very focused on introducing the flexibility of a packet environment in combination with the management and operations capabilities of traditional networks," added Goodwin, who noted that operators want to deploy that combination of capabilities without having to hire large teams of operations staff to maintain and administer the networks.

As a result, AlcaLu's team is focusing a great deal on OA&M (operations, administration, and maintenance) and control plane developments.

It shouldn't come as a major surprise that Alcatel-Lucent, one of the leading players in the telecom optical market along with Ciena and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , is engaged in such developments, as the ability to switch OTN traffic is becoming increasingly important as OTN transport gains in popularity, notes Heavy Reading senior analyst Sterling Perrin. (See Menara Launches Armada, JDSU: ONTs for OTN, Huawei Raises the Optical Stakes, and Magyar Deploys Huawei.)

And in commenting on Ciena's recent developments, Perrin also noted there's increasing interest in the development of a sub-lambda OTN standard to handle Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) traffic in the future.

Goodwin agrees that sub-lambda switching is an area that needs to be addressed, as the management of Gig-E traffic will be a driving factor for future network design.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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