Sycamore rolls out new switches

Sycamore Networks Inc. on Tuesday expanded its line of service-provider switches with a device that can serve at the core of small and medium-sized metropolitan-area networks.

Introduced at the SuperNet trade show in Santa Clara, California, the SN 16000 SC can simplify metro optical networks and ease the configuration of new network connections, all of which can reduce carriers' costs, according to Sycamore. In some markets outside North America, the new switch may even serve as a core switch for a regional network, the company said.

It joins Sycamore's SN 3000 network edge switch and the SN 16000, designed primarily for the core of a national or international infrastructure. It is designed to combine the functions of an ADM (add-drop multiplexer) that takes in small customer interfaces, a DCS (digital cross-connect system) that switches the traffic from ADMs, and a longer range transport device that can exchange traffic with a remote carrier central office, according to Rick Thompson, director of product marketing and management at Sycamore.

Although the company's other switches also combine those functions, the latest addition will fill a gap for carriers that don't want to invest in a larger switch than they need for a particular network, said Dana Cooperson, an analyst at RHK Inc., in Boston.

"(Sycamore) could have taken their big switch and sold (less than its full capacity of ports) to someone, but because it wasn't optimized to be a midsized switch, there would have been a cost penalty," she said.

ADMs normally are positioned around a SONet (Synchronous Optical Network) ring, with an additional ADM or set of ADMs on the end of the ring to aggregate the traffic and a DCS to direct the traffic. The SN 16000 SC can be used in place of that ADM and DCS, reducing complexity and equipment costs, Thompson said.

The SN 16000 SC takes up just one half of a bay in a service-provider facility, potentially replacing a stack of ADMs that might take up many bays in the facility, where the cost of rack space can be very high. Using the switch, carriers can fit in one bay as many as 768 interfaces that each can be used for a 155M-bps (bit-per-second) or 622M-bps fiber connection.

The SN 16000 SC is interoperable with one popular model of ADM, the Cisco Systems Inc. ONS 15454, and the company will provide interoperability with others based on demand, Thompson said. Used in a SONet ring populated by the Cisco devices, it can communicate with those ADMs for purposes of network management.

Although the Cisco 15454 is widely used, Sycamore's interoperability work is not done yet, according to Cooperson.

"To go forward, they'd really have to provide interoperability with the other products," namely, competing ADMs from Lucent Technologies Inc. and Nortel Networks Corp., she said.

With the introduction of the new switch, Sycamore also is adding new capabilities to its BroadLeaf NOS (Network Operation System) software that gives network managers more options for how they set up and adjust circuits. In addition to letting the software configure circuits automatically, managers now can set them up manually on a console.

In addition, managers now can see a graphical display of the current utilization of each link in a network, in real time, easing decision-making about where to set up new circuits, according to Thompson.

BroadLeaf NOS runs on all the company's switches.

The SN 16000 SC is available now. Pricing depends on configuration, according to Sycamore.

SuperNet takes place in Santa Clara, California, and runs from Jan. 21 to Jan. 24. Information is at

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