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Optical/IP

OFC/NFOEC 2011: Calient Recruits a Familiar Name

LOS ANGELES -- OFC/NFOEC 2011 -- It's 2000 all over again: Thousand-port optical switches and Atiq Raza are both coming back.

Raza recently joined as chairman and CEO of Calient Technologies Inc. , brought in to help with fundraising that's expected to close this month, says Gregory Koss, the former CEO who's now senior vice president of products and partners.

Raza is one of those Silicon Valley guys who seems to keep attracting headlines. He played a role in the optical bubble as a venture capitalist, selling a couple of unknown startups for insane prices (as measured by then-insane public company valuations). After settling some unrelated insider-trading allegations in 2008, Raza was barred from being a director or officer of a public company until 2013. (See RMI's Long Strange Trip.)

More recently, he's been an investor-in-residence at Khosla Ventures , looking at green technologies. (You can find out more in this EE Times interview from May.)

Raza originally made his name at AMD, so Koss says Raza might be able to help Calient's efforts to grow out of being a Santa Barbara, Calif., boutique shop.

"Typically we would ship 50 products a year. We're now seeing demand with the new design modules that would be maybe triple that for this year and probably in the range of 1,000 in 2012," Koss says.

Calient is getting a makeover, now selling its photonics switches in forms other than big, expensive boxes, as Koss told Light Reading in July. (See Calient Gets Ambitious With Optical Switching.)

At the time, Koss mentioned that Calient is preparing a 1,080-port product but didn't play up its prospects. That's changed; in the last six months, data centers have started asking about switches that large, he says. Calient sells three 320Gbit/s switches in those cases, and it had already planned to get a 1,080-port system shipping late in 2011.

Other players still in the all-optical switching business include Glimmerglass -- which has a 1,000-port switch demo that's been running for years -- and Polatis Inc. (See A Monster All-Optical Switch.)

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

optiblues 12/5/2012 | 5:10:39 PM
re: OFC/NFOEC 2011: Calient Recruits a Familiar Name

"Typically we would ship 50 products a year. We're now seeing demand with the new design modules that would be maybe triple that for this year and probably in the range of 1,000 in 2012," Koss says.


 


I've been at a few hardware companies, and this kind of growth for similar type systems does not happen in the real world. Am I missing something or is he blowing smoke?


Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:10:38 PM
re: OFC/NFOEC 2011: Calient Recruits a Familiar Name

Optiblues -- you're right that it's an unusual ramp. But he's talking mainly about the modules, rather than the full, rack-mounted, "box o'mirrors" system.


(I inserted "box o' mirrors" just to be funny. It shouldn't be taken seriously, and it could be just as unfairly applied to the module.)


Anyway. The module form is simpler to build and has to be simpler to sell.


Take into account, also, the fact that big data centers are rediscovering all-optical switching. Bikash Koley of Google, at the OSA Executive Forum on Monday, mentioned 1000x1000 switches (and did so without irony, I should add). 


Is Calient's product ramp still hard to swallow? Wellll... yes, actually, now that I look at the numbers by light of day.  I can believe they'll triple this year, because of the module thing. After that -- if demand is *that* strong, then that's great news for Glimmerglass and Polatis, too.

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