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Comtek Revives Sorrento for Another Run

Dan O'Shea
5/8/2015
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Like a cat with nine lives that already has used up three or four of them, Sorrento Networks is back.

The optical firm, which survived the telecom meltdown of 2002, restructuring, acquisition by Zhone and eventual spin-off from that company, had its intellectual property and trademarks acquired by UK repairs and support player Comtek Network Systems (UK) Ltd. last September. The deal might have looked like a definitive end to Sorrento, since Comtek logically saw an opportunity to maintain and repair Sorrento gear already in the field. (See Zhone to Acquire Sorrento, Sorrento Finds Life After Zhone and Rocky Start for New Sorrento.)

However, Comtek this week relaunched Sorrento, and it has more in mind than just keeping aging equipment running. Gene Norgard, vice president of Sorrento and based in the company's new Pleasanton, Calif. office, tells Light Reading, "We have put together a product roadmap, and we're building an engineering team. Some of the team is in place already, but there are more hires to come." (See Sorrento Relaunches After Comtek Acquisition.)

John Mitchell, the UK-based Comtek official who also will be in charge of product management for Sorrento, adds that there is an opportunity to extend Sorrento's flagship product, the GigaMux 3200 CWDM/DWDM platform, to 100G. "We see the need to address 100G, as it's starting to emerge with the data center operators," he says. "We have relationships with smaller data center operators and enterprises, and those are the places we'll grow from." Mitchell also anticipates adding a "low-cost entry point" product to the GigaMux family.

Sorrento also expects to get a leg-up in the market from partnerships, and Norgard says the company is expecting to announce a partnership with the 100G market in mind in the coming months.


Want to know more about the optical sector? It's sure to be a hot topic at Light Reading's second Big Telecom Event on June 9-10 in Chicago. Get yourself registered today!


Norgard says that Comtek communicated openly with existing Sorrento customers about the acquisition, and ultimately kept up the Sorrento brand because "it's a name that is well known in the industry. Some customers have hundreds of nodes with Sorrento equipment."

However, Sorrento also returns to a rapidly evolving optical sector, one that not only is seeing tense competition for 100G business with web-scale companies, but that also is teeming with consolidation activity that is creating ever-larger vendors. (See Nokia & Alcatel-Lucent to Combine, Ciena's Cyan Buy: It's All About the Software and Infinera Coming Closer to Mastering the Metro.)

Asked how Sorrento can compete in this environment, company officials give the expected -- maybe only -- answer: "Those larger players can get involved in lengthy decision-making processes," Mitchell says. "There's still a place for smaller players who can move fast."

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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