ROADMs Instead of Metro 100G Systems?

March, 2015

At the OFC 2015 conference, one of the most highly respected network engineers in the business from Xtera Communications will be legitimately asking the question on a panel, “What on Earth is a ‘100G Metro System?’” Bill Szeto will be asserting that because 100G currently means a whole wavelength, there is nothing wrong serving the needs with just taking a 100-gig channel off of a ROADM (Reconfigurable Optical Add/Drop Multiplexer). In doing so, it would also take care of the potential problems with stranded capacity that would occur in mesh networks as we outlined in a previous blog article. Bill will also argue that a so-called 100G metro system would provide no additional features/functionality. Also, there would be the avoidance of the issues today, such as with compatibility between different vendors' equipment at that data rate. Obviously, service providers would not want...

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Ciena Probably Overpaying for Cyan

May, 2015

A prima facie case can be made that the $400 million price tag on Cyan is out of line. In effect, Ciena should have problems justifying it is worth at almost half as much as Nortel’s Metro Ethernet Networks business (adjusted for inflation) and about four times Cyan’s revenues in 2014 – in an optical environment in which it has been recently difficult sometimes to command even 1x sales on an acquisition. Also, with the prospects for SDN in the public network space increasingly getting dimmer, the purchase at a premium is even more of a head scratcher. With the exception of the buyouts of the Nortel assets (a necessity to keep revenues up sufficiently) and the pickup of Lightera Networks, which led to the successful CoreDirector (a steal at the 1999 price of a little over $450 million), Ciena has in general not had a good track record on buyouts of companies. Since its founding,...

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Ciena’s Last Chance to Fulfill Its Destiny

August, 2015

Ciena beat the overwhelming odds as a startup in the 1990s to become the most dominant optical system vendor in the global telecom space. However, while it used to be the case that incumbency with major service providers always in effect meant never having to say you were sorry because of the all-important operational advantages inherent with having a large installed base of equipment, the downfall of several major players, including Nortel and Tellabs, has amply demonstrated that survival of well-entrenched suppliers is hardly a sure thing anymore. While Nokia’s purchase of Alcatel-Lucent means that Ciena’s position particularly in the US market has been strengthened (at least one big carrier in the States wants as little to do with Nokia as possible), it also creates a bigger void that has been created for other players to take a more active role – and Ciena can either finally...

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AT&T's "Open ROADM": More Skepticism

April, 2016

In defiance of AT&T’s uniquely leviathan network involving layers of infrastructure built over many years, the service provider continues to promote further leading-edge concepts that would ostensibly change the fundamental nature of its cost structure as well as its spider web of operational entanglements. These major shifts have been projected to occur in an immense way a long way down the road, whether it was getting to all-IP by 2020 (somehow in 2012, all of the T1s would be expected to disappear and OTN would cease to becomes a reality), and in 2014, it projected that over 75% of its network would be software-centric by the end of the decade. AT&T’s latest scheme was introduced at OFC 2016, the "Open ROADM", and while also based on the notion of "software control," it brings in the idea of "open hardware" or Open Line Systems (OLS) in which Verizon, at the same conference,...

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All-Optical Switches: Still Illusory?

October, 2016

Over 30 years ago, there began discussions in the industry about the development of an all-optical switch. Some of the comments sound familiar to those of today. In April, 1983, The Economist addressed them: “[Optical] transmission performance is degraded by inefficient switching via electronic devices at either end of a system.” Also, there was the statement that one school of thought favors an “in incremental or hybrid approach.” Although there is not much hype in the market right now about the widespread use of such devices, both major vendors, Huber+Suhner Polatis and Calient Networks, long-time survivors since the big bubble burst at the turn of the century, are expressing a great deal of optimism, particularly relating to at least three of the big four hyperscale data center operators, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, supposedly taking a serious look at their...

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