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Ethernet services

White Rock Picks Up Seranoa

ANAHEIM, Calif. – OFC/NFOEC 2005 – Sonet transport gear maker White Rock Networks Inc. announced this morning that it has bought Seranoa Networks Inc., a maker of WAN acceleration products, for an undisclosed sum (see White Rock Acquires Seranoa Networks).

The acquisition gives White Rock a new product that will complement its Sonet transport arsenal while, at the same time, giving it access to a different set of potential customers. And, the buy probably came at a bargain basement price (see Sayonara, Seranoa?).

"They were certainly floating at the top of the tank," says Andrew Knott, VP of marketing and customer service for White Rock. "But not anymore."

Knott says that several months ago, White Rock recognized that the vast majority of traffic its products helped transport was IP-based, so it only made sense to start developing the ability to aggregate IP connections at the network's edge. But, before it got too far along, Seranoa appeared, looking for a graceful exit.

Despite its troubles as a business, Seranoa did have relevant technology.

Here's how the latest iteration of the company's gear works: CLECs and IXCs usually concentrate subscribers’ T1 connections in a central office (CO) owned by an incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) and backhaul the T1 traffic to their points of presence (POPs) over Sonet metro access networks.

Most enterprises only use a portion of the bandwidth available on their T1s, but service providers have to backhaul all that bandwidth to a POP. Seranoa's gear grooms the traffic and multiplexes the IP packets at the CO, so it allows the IXC or CLEC to use its bandwidth more efficiently, and it allows them to lower their costs for providing T1 services (see Seranoa Tackles Backhaul Bandwidth).

Even under White Rock's command, Seranoa's gear will still be sold as standalone products; Seranoa's IPeX 200 and IPeX 400 boxes will become White Rock’s VLX300 and VLX400 Service Edge Concentrators, and all the gear's development, support, and manufacturing will move to White Rock's base in Richardson, Texas.

White Rock offers the various MSPP applications -- Sonet transport, DWDM, packet processing, etc. -- in the form of small, stackable "building blocks" that are all hooked together by 2.5 Gbit/s local equipment interconnect (LEI) cables and managed by software. In addition to offering Seranoa's products as standalone devices, White Rock will also incorporate the technology into its "building block" approach.

That combined MSPP/Service Edge Concentrator should be of interested to ISPs, White Rock says, "because they lease expensive transmission bandwidth [rather than operating their own fiber networks], and we can now help them reduce their costs of doing so."

White Rock employs about 120, according to Knott, and its partner Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA) makes up between "10 percent and 50 percent" of its sales. He says that even after the acquisition the company is aiming to be cashflow breakeven on or before the first quarter of next year.

Knott says most of Seranoa's employees were laid off last year, but White Rock has offered jobs in Richardson to a few of those remaining. The company is displaying all of its product lines, even the freshly bought stuff, here at OFC/NFOEC. — Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

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