Anda aims to ease carriers into Ethernet

Enterprises that want Ethernet data services from their network service providers may have an ally in Anda Networks Inc., which on Monday introduced a family of network edge devices designed to help carriers set up Ethernet at a relatively low cost.

The privately held Sunnyvale, California, network equipment maker says it has a cheaper set of tools for carriers to build and deploy an Ethernet system with their existing SONet (Synchronous Optical Network) wide-area infrastructures. The devices, grouped under a new family called EtherTone, also make it easier and less expensive to provision new capacity when customers' needs grow, said Charles Kenmore, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Anda.

Enterprises are demanding more carrier data capacity and want it delivered over Ethernet, which is the basis of almost all corporate LANs, according to IDC analyst Sterling Perrin, in Framingham, Massachusetts. Though the telecommunications market is starting to stabilize after several rough years, the surviving service providers still have to keep capital expenses low.

"Clearly the carriers don't want to spend any money," Perrin said. However, there is enough competition remaining that even incumbent service providers will need to deliver Ethernet to keep up, he added.

At the head of Anda's EtherTone family is the EtherEdge 4000, a modular device with as many as 24 Ethernet ports offering speeds up to Gigabit Ethernet. It can sit alongside a SONet ADM (add-drop multiplexer) in a building with as many as 24 tenant customers, with a similar "mirror" device deployed at a carrier facility. On the customer side, in addition to Ethernet ports for customers, the EtherEdge 4000 offers legacy interfaces such as T-1 for traditional PBXes (private branch exchanges). From there, a fat Ethernet pipe between the EtherEdge and the ADM can bring all the customers' Ethernet traffic on to the SONet infrastructure.

The EtherReach 2000 Series is a set of devices similar to the EtherEdge 4000 but designed for a single customer. The EtherEdge 3000 Series is designed for SDH (Synchronous Digital Hierarchy), SONet's counterpart in markets outside North America.

The EtherSLAM is a platform for the carrier central office that includes the functionality of the EtherEdge 4000 as well as supporting Ethernet-based DSL (Digital Subscriber Line). Anda also introduced EtherView, an element management software system for the EtherTone family.

A key benefit of the EtherTone products is that unlike most MSPPs (multiservice provisioning platforms), which are typically deployed for Ethernet over SONet, they don't require carriers to replace the SONet ADM.

"That SONet box doesn't have to go anywhere, which is good for the carriers, and they can still offer the Ethernet service over it," Perrin said.

Once customers are set up with Ethernet services, they can get more bandwidth provisioned in increments as small as 1M bps, according to Anda. That's possible on other Ethernet-over-SONet systems too, but with the EtherTone technology it's less complex, Anda's Kenmore said. EtherTone lets carriers provision a fat Ethernet pipe, such as a Gigabit Ethernet connection, and then divide up that bandwidth with VLANs (virtual LANs), a technology most LAN engineers understand, he said. There are also QoS (quality of service) mechanisms that allow the carrier to ensure it is complying with the service level agreements it has made with customers.

The EtherEdge 4000 is available now in trials at several carriers. Average selling price for an entry-level configuration is about US$6,000. The EtherView software is also available, with an average selling price of US$10,000.

The first product in the EtherReach 2000 Series will go into lab trials at the end of this month, with an average selling price of US$1,500. The EtherEdge 3000 will go into customer trials next month. It will have an average selling price of about $3,000. The EtherSLAM will be available later this year, according to Anda. No pricing is yet available for it.

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