Cisco unveils plan, products for optical networks

Amid a tough financial environment for service providers, Cisco Systems Inc. plans to continue investing in its optical-network equipment line to help carriers and corporations make better use of optical networks, the company announced Tuesday.

Cisco unveiled at an analyst conference in San Jose, California, its Complete Optical Multiservice Edge and Transport (COMET) strategy, which calls for the company to enhance its 15000 series of optical equipment and management software to offer more types of interfaces and greater capacity.

The 15000 series spans optical systems from the edge of metropolitan area networks out to long-distance connections between metropolitan areas. As service providers roll out optical connectivity to customers, they need to be able to support more connections and options, said Rob Koslowsky, optical marketing manager at Cisco.

"You never know what service might be requested out of a given floor or a given building," Koslowsky said. Corporate customers are beginning to embrace such options as storage area networks and disaster recovery systems over optical networks, he said.

Optical networks, which send information as light waves over fibers, can send many streams of traffic over a single fiber by breaking them into different wavelengths of light. Service providers and some corporations are turning to the high capacity of optical technology to build fast networks around large metropolitan areas and between cities. At the same time, carriers and corporations are looking eventually to make networks cheaper and simpler by combining different types of traffic -- including data, voice and multimedia and various data services -- over the same infrastructure.

While introducing its COMET strategy Tuesday, Cisco also expanded its optical portfolio. It unveiled a DWDM (Dense Wave-Division Multiplexing) platform for long-distance transmission -- up to 2,000 kilometers -- and enhancements to some metropolitan network equipment. It also updated software for managing a wide range of optical equipment.

An update to Cisco Transport Manager (CTM), the company's software for managing its optical devices, will allow service providers to set up a new circuit for a customer in just minutes, Koslowsky said. CTM 3.0 lets a network manager see what ports and how much bandwidth are available on all the devices across the network. With a CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture) software interface, it can be integrated with management, accounting and billing systems already being used by service providers.

Cisco expanded its 15800 DWDM platform to handle transmission over longer distances. A new model, the ONS 15808, can send traffic over extended long-haul (600 to 2,000 kilometers) distances as well as the traditional long haul of up to 600 kilometers. This eliminates the need for regenerator equipment along the way, making it less expensive for a carrier to build an optical link between two distant metropolitan areas, Koslowsky said. The 15808 can carry as many as 80 wavelengths, so it can be fitted with as many as 80 interfaces at 10G bps (bits per second).

A new interface for the ONS 15200, a platform for carrying wavelengths from an optical network directly into a corporate facility, lets companies use the popular Fibre Channel technology over the wavelength to extend a storage network over an optical metropolitan area network.

All the products and upgrades introduced Tuesday are available immediately worldwide. Cisco did not disclose pricing.

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