OpVista Gets Another Go

Optical startup Vello Systems looks like it's pursuing the same optical-transport track as OpVista, its former incarnation, but with a couple of new technology twists, including a possible nod to packet-optical transport systems (P-OTS).

OpVista itself gave up the ghost earlier this year, it seems. The company has been able to consider itself "not dead" by restarting as Vello. (See OpVista: Not Dead Yet.)

At last check, Vello was being run by Karl May, OpVista's last CEO. (May hasn't returned Light Reading's recent calls.) Industry sources describe Vello as a restart of OpVista, using the same intellectual property.

That theory seems to be confirmed by OpVista's Website, which recently got fleshed out to include a description of a product: the CX16000.

The system sure sounds like a sibling to the CX8, OpVista's last product. With that metro system, OpVista was touting a technology called dense multi-carrier (DMC), which packed (you guessed it) multiple carriers of light into one ITU wavelength window. The result was a 40-Gbit/s link that was being sent on what, physically, was a 10-Gbit/s optical connection. By keeping the physical bit rate to 10 Gbit/s, OpVista wouldn't require any dispersion compensation, a bugaboo of high-speed links. (See OpVista Runs With DMC for 40-Gig.)

Under Vello, the technology is going under a new name: the Adaptive Optical Services Ring (AOSR). The Website description sure makes it sound like DMC: "multicarrier transmission that enables 40-Gbit/s and 100-Gbit/s wavelengths with high spectral efficiency, for fiber capacity up to 16 Tb/s, over existing 10G DWDM optical networks."

But Vello is adding a services twist. The CX16000 apparently has packet capabilities under the hood, so that it can route not only wavelengths, but specific services or packets within a wavelength as well.

That would seem to tap the P-OTS craze that's sweeping the optical and IP routing sectors. While not everybody agrees on how the technology should manifest itself, most vendors seem committed to somehow integrating the packet and optical worlds into one system. (See Hitachi Preps P-OTS Box, Juniper's Packet-Optical Spells M-P-L-S, Packet Optical Transport Goes for the Long Haul, Ciena Catches Packet/Optical Convergence Bug, Infinera: Thinking Packet-Optical?, AlcaLu Makes Its Packet-Optical Move , and Cyan Plays God With Optical.)

Vello is also riding the bandwagon of photonic integration, claiming to have mashed "several traditionally separate optical functions" onto a blade.

OpVista had talked about selling its DCM technology on an OEM basis, and it seems to have the same plans for the AOSR variant. At the recent Supercomm show, officials at systems vendor Optelian said they'd been contacted by Vello about a possible deal.

"We were actually approached more as a contract-engineering type of solution, where they would possibly do a board for a vendor like us," said Dave Mills, vice president of sales for Optelian.

Vello seems to be keeping quiet about its operations. Based on what's on the Website, Heavy Reading analyst Sterling Perrin still has his doubts.

"I'm very skeptical about this company being able to make it as a DWDM systems supplier, without having received some very large amounts of funding between the OpVista stage and the Vello stage. Based on what appears on the Website, it does not look like there's enough technology that's new here," he writes in an email to Light Reading.

The photonic integration piece, in particular, talks about integration onto a blade, whereas "true photonic integration reduces multiple functions to a single chip," he writes. Blade-level integration isn't a bad thing -- JDSU (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU) has been quite proud of its work there -- but it's not in the same league as the chip-level integration accomplished by, say, Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN). (See OFC: JDSU & Superblade!, JDSU Reworks Amps, and Infinera Declares WDM War.)

So, where's OpVista getting the money to do all this?

It's possible that prior investors have ponied up for another go. OpVista raised at least $90 million in its time, from investors including DCM - Doll Capital Management , Incubic LLC , Sevin Rosen Funds , U.S. Trust Corp. , and -- joining in a 2007 round -- ComVentures . (See VC Money Chases OpVista and OpVista Racks Up $28M.)

Vello might even have revenues already. OpVista gear was deployed at Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Cox Communications Inc. , but those wins date back to 2003 and 2005, respectively. Industry sources believe those contracts have lapsed into maintenance mode -- meaning the gear's still there, with business to be had for upgrades and spares. (See Time Warner Deploys OpVista and OpVista & Cox : Who Knew? )

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

porcupinetree 12/5/2012 | 3:52:02 PM
re: OpVista Gets Another Go

Advice to Opvista and it's investors : GIVE IT UP ALREADY.

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