Sten Guns for Packet Optical Integration

Swedish optical equipment firm Transmode Systems AB has appointed one of the telecom industry's longest-standing advocates of converged, all-IP networks as its new chief technology officer as it looks to make its mark in the emerging packet-optical transport system (P-OTS) market.

The European specialist vendor, a winner in the 2008 Leading Lights awards, will announce Wednesday that Sten Nordell, formerly chief convergence officer and VP of networks and platform strategy at Norway's national operator, Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN), has joined as CTO with a remit to help Transmode develop products that will appeal to fixed and mobile carriers, cable operators, large organizations, and municipalities that are looking to reduce network complexity. (See LR Names 2008 Leading Lights Winners.)

Nordell has many years of experience building new-generation networks. He joined Telenor when it acquired Swedish alternative operator Utfors in 2002, where he was a founder and CTO. (See Telenor's Acquisition of Utfors Approved.)

Transmode's new CTO tells Light Reading that, having designed a network that put the optical, Ethernet, and IP layers together at Utfors, he went on to help Telenor design an Ethernet-aware transport network as part of its migration to an all-IP environment. (See Telenor to Unveil All IP Plan .)

Now he's bringing that experience to play at Transmode, which is seeking to further capitalize on the continuing development of carrier metro networks: According to the company's CEO, Karl Thedéen, the company was on course to increase its revenues by 30 percent in 2008 as a result of growing demand for its WDM transport gear. (See Transmode Bucks Growth Trend and the following video interview.)

Nordell believes there's plenty of growth left in the metro transport market. He says the industry trend is to deploy more fiber, and that "the sweet spot is in metro networks -- that's still a developing market," thanks to the increasing volumes of data traffic traversing today's networks. "The bandwidth crunch is there, especially in metro and large urban areas."

The great opportunity now for a company such as Transmode -- which competes with the likes of ADVA Optical Networking , BTI Systems Inc. , Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN), ECI Telecom Ltd. , Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY), and Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA), as well as the major Tier 1 equipment vendors -- is to "simplify the structure that many operators are building," says Nordell.

That simplification comes from the integration of optical and Ethernet capabilities, something that Transmode has been working on for nearly two years. Creating converged packet-optical platforms is also high on the agenda of most of the major players in the optical equipment market as operators of all types and sizes look to reduce the number of physical elements in their networks and create simpler topologies. (See Ericsson Makes Packet-Optical Play and Optical's Packet Magic.)

Nordell believes a lot of carriers are trying to migrate to more converged transport networks, "but are still playing around with multi-layer networks, and that makes it more complex than it needs to be... There's a real opportunity to take optical awareness in the Ethernet layer a stage further."

And he's bringing more than just his insights from his previous carrier employers to the table. "I had a lot of discussions with other operators when I was at Telenor about how to develop networks," and he has some interesting ideas from some of those carriers to develop, notes Nordell, who believes Transmode can also start to compete for Tier 1 carrier business. (See FT Preps Major Backhaul Rollout.)

His first task in his new role is to help "make our Ethernet offering sharper, to add more functionality and integrate more network management capabilities into the platform to make it easier for carriers to use. Transmode has started this already." (See Transmode Intros Ethernet Muxponder.)

Naturally, he believes his new employer has the right approach to delivering converged packet-optical solutions, while others might not be on the same wavelength (note -- my cheesy joke, not Sten's).

He says not every transport vendor is approaching the P-OTS market in the same way, and that many have taken a very traditional view of how to achieve such capabilities. "We have a more simple and cost-effective approach... It's not revolutionary. It's about how you put the pieces together from a packet and transport perspective. The carriers are looking for a simpler architecture."

And can the work that the standards bodies and vendors are doing with MPLS-TP (MPLS transport profile) and PBB-TE (Provider Backbone Bridge – Traffic Engineering) help make things simpler? (See Transport MPLS Gets a Makeover and A Guide to PBT/PBB-TE.)

Carriers like standardized technology, and don't want anything proprietary, so "these developments can help," notes the new Transmode man. "The protocol integration of services will help if it can be achieved in a cohesive way. Standardization is good."

Nordell's arrival means Patrik von Matern no longer has to be the acting CTO, so he can now concentrate on being director of product management for the vendor's longer reach TM-Series platform.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

digits 12/5/2012 | 4:13:39 PM
re: Sten Guns for Packet Optical Integration So many possibilities for Transmode....

It's growing, says it's profitable, and is ready to IPO once macro investment conditions are better.

It's a focused company that has built itself slowly but surely, and is seamingly reaping the rewards of careful growth, focusing on its strengths.


Can it cut it against the AlcaLus of this world?

Can it win enough Tier 1 business?

What will happen to vendors such as Transmode when Infinera enters the metro market?

Maybe Infinera will enter the metro market by acquiring Transmode....

Or maybe another company will buy Transmode?

Certainly one worth watching - the storyline should be entertaining.

ProductMan 12/5/2012 | 4:13:27 PM
re: Sten Guns for Packet Optical Integration Ray,
Transmode are a great and growing company with good traction in European MSO's and possibly a tier1.

Against the AlcaLu's, Huawei's, Ericsson's of the world they have their work cut out, simply due to scale.

I shouldn't have thought that Transmode appears on the radar just yet. Given previous experience of the products and the team though, they are well positioned to give us "big boys" a kicking in the future - hell, we need it!

Targeting convergence at the right market seems to be working well for T'mode right now and I can see some larger operators taking a punt for certain applications or bespoke type networks.

Infinera entering the metro market is inevitable, but I don't see them eating Transmode or Adva for lunch as they will have their own issues.

I for one would like T'mode to grow organically as I like the cut of their gib right now and this appointment is showing a laser like focus on their market. A focus that is eventually going to make larger fish take notice.

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