More than one route to packet optical transport, says ADVA's Protiva

By Stephen Hardy -- While several competitors develop and market integrated packet optical transport systems, ADVA Optical Networking CEO Brian Protiva is quite happy to pursue a best-of-breed strategy in partnership with Juniper Networks.

By Stephen Hardy -- While several competitors develop and market integrated packet optical transport systems, ADVA Optical Networking (FSE: ADV) CEO Brian Protiva is quite happy to pursue a best-of-breed strategy in partnership with Juniper Networks.

Protiva sees the current generation of packet optical transport systems as a response to carrier desires to reduce the amount of money spent on Layer 3 technology. But he believes it’s not necessarily the right response for all applications – or all suppliers.

“Integration is the right way to go forward, but it is a god box,” Protiva says of the packet optical transport system concept. “So, first of all, you need to be a master of all trades; you need to be a master of multiple layers. And there are very few companies that have the heritage to do it, number one, or the capability to keep it up over a period of time. Because it’s damn challenging to do that.”

The challenge is particularly acute for optical communications companies, Protiva believes. “I think a lot of people in the transport space don’t understand Layer 3 and MPLS very well,” he explains. “They’re struggling just to get a product that somehow competes with a product that was designed years ago by the true MPLS players.”

For this reason, Protiva decided that the best way for ADVA Optical Networking to address IP/optical convergence was to stick with what he considers the company’s strengths – optical and Ethernet transport – and partner with Juniper Networks for Layer 3 expertise (see "Juniper Networks invests $3M in ADVA Optical Networking").

“Packet optical transport we see as coming; we see it as a definitive market opportunity. We don’t think that 100% of the market is going to integrated network element solutions. I think a number will stay with best-of-breed solutions,” Protiva says.

Not surprisingly, Protiva is confident that his company can hold up its end of the partnership with Juniper. “One of the areas that we feel we spent a lot of R&D money over the last 18 months and is now mapping out into a very interesting technology is the agile core, where we believe we are a definitive leader in ROADM; we have one of the best if not the best control planes in the WDM market space; our road map for 100G coherent seems very competitive as we go in to talk to end customers, specifically carriers; and we have a service manager for point and click provisioning, which has been talked about for a long period of time but is all available today,” he offers.

However, optical transport companies may not be the only players interested in integrating optical, Ethernet, and Layer 3 capabilities. Protiva notes that Cisco’s acquisition of CoreOptics provides the company with high-speed optical expertise, while Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei offer both optical platforms and IP routers. Even Juniper “with the right partners” in Protiva’s words, would be in a position to develop such a system – and is said by others to be beefing up its in-house optical capabilities.

Nevertheless, Protiva likes ADVA’s position. “We’re spending more R&D dollars, we’re building our business, we believe that there will be a good growth year in 2011. And it just seems that we’ve not been in a better environment for many, many years,” he concludes.


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