Cisco unveils metro optical system for melding storage

Cisco Systems Inc. Wednesday broadened its metro optical portfolio with a new dense wavelength division multiplexing platform designed for high-speed integrated transport of storage and data networking applications.

The ONS 15540 Extended Services Platform (ESP) is designed for enterprise and service provider networks. Enterprises demand high-capacity storage networking and cost-effective extension of Gigabit Ethernet traffic into the metro area, Cisco says. Service providers require rapid provisioning of new services over wavelengths for greater revenue per optical fiber as well as service-level agreement guarantees on those services.

Those demands from two distinct markets are helping fuel growth in the metro optical storage and data transport arena. The market is expected to grow to US$3.6 billion by 2004 from less than $500 million this year, according to research from RHK.

With service provider and enterprise IT spending way down, that number seems almost unreachable. And as Cisco prepares to lay off 8,500 employees due to this lack of spending by customers, unveiling a new product might seem irrelevant.

But life goes on, analysts say.

"It's a tough time to launch a new product, but anyone who wants to stay in business needs to launch new products and continue to grow the product line," says Anna Reidy, senior analyst at RHK.

Cisco's ONS 15540 will go up against Nortel Networks' OPTera Metro 5200 and ONI Systems' Online 7000 and 9000 platforms. The ONS 15540 is a 12-slot NEBS-3 compliant rack-mountable chassis. The initial release supports up to 32 protected wavelengths per fiber pair, operating at speeds from 16M bit/sec to 2.5G bit/sec. Spacing between wavelengths is an ITU-compliant 100 GHz, enabling all 32 wavelengths to reside in the C-band of an optical fiber, Cisco says.

The ONS 15540 supports a variety of networking and storage protocols, including Gigabit Ethernet, ESCON, FICON, Fibre Channel and SONET, all initially running in transparent mode. Later releases will be able to support these services in switched mode, in which a wavelength can be packed with as much traffic of the same type as possible.

The system can be configured to operate in point-to-point, hub-ring and mesh-ring networks. Optical add/drop multiplexing modules are optional for users looking to add or drop multiples of four, eight or 16 lambdas at a time.

For protection, the ONS 15540 features three options that give the system greater than 99.999% availability, Cisco claims. For management, the system offers an additional, dedicated lambda, called the Optical Supervisory Channel, which provides performance monitoring and troubleshooting for each fiber. In a later release, the ONS 15540 will provide per-lambda management end-to-end, Cisco says.

The ONS 15540 can also be managed from CiscoView, a Web-based version of Cisco's graphical device management application. In the future, service providers can manage the system from the Cisco Transport Manager application, which manages the rest of Cisco's ONS optical portfolio.

The ONS 15540 adds high-density storage and data network integration to Cisco's ONS metro optical networking line. Other members of that line include: the ONS 15454, 15327 and 15216 for SONET add/drop muxing; and the ONS 15201 and 15252 WDM platforms for cost-effectively delivering wavelengths to buildings.

Cisco is also working on a line of new optical platforms for provisioning 10/100M bit/sec Ethernet services and configuring Resilient Packet Ring (RPR) architectures, says Carl Engineer, a Cisco marketing director. The RPR products, which would support the emerging IEEE 802.17 standard for optimizing metro optical bandwidth for IP and Ethernet, could emerge this year, he says.

The ONS 15540, meanwhile, is being certified to interoperate with high-availability storage systems from EMC and IBM. Cisco is also working with AT&T Solutions to qualify the ONS 15540 for deployment in the services company's Ultravailable Solutions offering for storage area and broadband networking. Cisco also is working with Metromedia Fiber Network (MFN) to qualify the ONS 15540 for deployment in the MFN network.

Cisco is also certifying the ONS 15540 for interoperability with 10G bit/sec-capable versions of its own 12000 GSR and 7600 OSR routers, and Catalyst 6500 switches, says Engineer.

The ONS 15540 is expected to be available in June. The list price of a base system starts at $67,000, excluding $20,000 transponders and $30,000 four-channel OADMs.

Cisco is targeting November for a second release of the ONS 15540 that will support 10G bit/sec wavelengths, crossbar switching up to 640G bit/sec, and perhaps sub-lambda muxing of different services onto a single lambda.

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