Celion launches optical service alternative

Celion Networks Inc. is introducing optical gear for businesses claiming that the product can help to improve corporate backup plans for widely separated data centers and save money.

Called Celion Enterprise Transport System (ETS), a pair of the devices can send and receive data at nearly 100G bit/sec over leased dark fiber for the same price as a 2.5G-bit/sec optical service, the company says. The range of the equipment is more than 1,800 miles (2,880 kilometers) if optical amplifiers are placed periodically along the way.

This cost savings makes it affordable for companies to link distant data centers and back them up more frequently because it takes less time to swap data back and forth, Celion says. For example, backing up 100T bytes of data that has 20 percent changes per day requires a 20G bit/sec link in order to synch the data within the same business day, Celion says.

By making such high-speed transfers possible, companies can use secondary data centers halfway across the country as backups rather than building one within the same region or metro area where high-speed optical services are more affordable, Celion says.

Celion ETS uses two different wavelengths to send optical traffic in both directions on a single fiber strand. The total distance can exceed 1,800 miles if the signal is boosted periodically along the way by optical amplifiers.

Celion says the device is suitable for businesses with multiple tens to hundreds of terabytes of data to back up, and says financial firms, large manufacturers and health care providers are likely candidates.

Because the data travels over a single fiber, customers might consider whether they need a second fiber that follows a different route between the facilities as a backup in case one gets cut, says Mike Karp, senior analyst with Enterprise Management Associates Inc. "It depends on what you lose if you go down," he says.

He ranks Nortel Networks Corp. and Ciena Corp. among competitors, but the use of a single fiber is a key difference. "You get twice as much with half the fiber requirement," he says.

Celion, based in Richardson, Texas, is three years old and has US$70 million in backing from Sequoia Capital, Lehman Brothers Inc., Corning Inc., Global Innovation Partners LLC, Intel Corp. and Mitsui USA. Fonder and CEO Pawan Jaggi was former senior vice president of global transport for Level 3 Communication Inc.

The model of ETS being released is called CN-1000-S, and costs US$100,000 for a system with two boxes and one amplifier. The price increases with distance as additional amplifiers are needed and can reach US$2 million, the company says.

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