Polaris Networks nears product shipment

31 October 2003 San Jose Lightwave -- First its ASIC fab was late with the silicon. Then it found bugs in the chips. But now Polaris Networks says the problems that had delayed delivery of sample systems to customers are behind them. First examples of the OMX terabit-scale metro transport switch should reach customer labs "within a few weeks," according to the company's director of product marketing, Sab Gosal.

31 October 2003 San Jose Lightwave -- First its ASIC fab was late with the silicon. Then it found bugs in the chips. But now Polaris Networks says the problems that had delayed delivery of sample systems to customers are behind them. First examples of the OMX terabit-scale metro transport switch should reach customer labs "within a few weeks," according to the company's director of product marketing, Sab Gosal.

Polaris developed the OMX as a next-generation crossconnect that would combine the functions of a traditional DCS with add/drop multiplexing. In addition, the system is designed to support point-and-click GMPLS provisioning as well as packet-based Layer 2 services such as Ethernet/MPLS, VLAN, and VPLS. Using as an example an application where a hub needed to support 1,024 STS-1 equivalent, OC-48, fully protected, 50% transmux traffic, one OMX could replace 22 add/drop multiplexers as well as a wideband and a broadband DCS, the company claims.

The trick has been building the system. The key to the 240-Gbit/sec bi-directional, nonblocking and redundant switch fabric architecture was a pair of software-programmable devices ¿ one for the fabric itself, the other a service processor that resides on each line card -- that proved more difficult to perfect than anticipated. Clean, production versions of the silicon have finally arrived; while Gosal admitted that a few software bugs remained, he expressed confidence that the company's engineers would dispense with these quickly and have systems ready to go in a matter of weeks.

The company has lined up three carriers willing to kick the box's tires. While Gosal declined to identify them by name, he described one as a CLEC, another as a metro wholesale services provider, and the third as a major IXC. The company's initial focus is on North America, although Gosal says that an SDH version of the system is on the development road map.

Gosal says the company envisions carriers using the system as part of a cap-and-grow strategy or as a complete replacement for existing DCS/multiplexer combinations. Future versions of the system will support next-generation SONET as well as Resilient Packet Ring (RPR) technology for Ethernet mesh or ring networking.

The company intends to follow the delivery of the trial systems with a stepped up market presence in 2004 ¿ as well as another round of funding. Gosal says that Polaris has some funds lined up from the company's existing investors, but would be looking for additional backers in this upcoming round. The money will be used to build the company's service operations to support customer deployments.

-- S. Hardy

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