Ciena intros modular approach to IP/optical networks

SEPTEMBER 28, 2009 By Stephen Hardy -- Attempting to trump similar announcements by Alcatel-Lucent and Cyan Optics, Ciena has announced a new line of modular networking products designed to address packet transmission via router and optical platforms.

SEPTEMBER 28, 2009 By Stephen Hardy -- Attempting to trump similar announcements by Alcatel-Lucent and Cyan Optics, Ciena has announced a new line of modular networking products designed to address packet transmission via router and optical platforms. The 5400 Family of Reconfigurable Switching Systems comprises a pair of platforms with a variety of modules that can be mixed and matched to meet the specific needs of a particular network node.

The 5400 family current comprises two platforms. The 5430 RSS features 30 slots with initial switching capacity of 3.6 Tbps. The smaller 5410 RSS has 10 slots and an initial capacity of 1.2 Tbps. Both platforms feature a dual switching architecture.

The platform pair also uses the same modules. The modules provide WDM, OTN, SONET/SDH, Ethernet, and MPLS capabilities. As was the case with Cyan’s announcement, the modules are designed to be fielded as standalone point products or in any combination to meet a carrier’s need at a given location. For example, depending upon the modules installed, a carrier could field the 5430 and 5410 RSS as:

  • optical crossconnect switches (Layer 1)
  • optical transport switches (Layers 0/1)
  • Carrier Ethernet switches (Layers 2/2.5)
  • converged packet optical switches (Layers 1/2/2.5)
  • converged packet optical transport systems (Layers 0/1/2/2.5)


The platforms leverage the Ciena OneOS operating system, which Dave Parks, director of segment marketing at Ciena, said enables automated service delivery, dynamic mesh restoration, and scale. Since the operating system also powers the CN 4200 FlexSelect, carriers can automate control of their networks end to end, Parks added.

The modules currently are in field trials with carriers whose identities Parks declined to divulge.

In comparing Ciena’s offering to the Cyan announcement, Parks pointed to the company’s use of field-proven technology, as well as the interoperability with the CN 4200 and the end-to-end capabilities this pairing provides. The Ciena platforms would appear to provide more horsepower as well. The 5430 RSS offers greater switching capacity and supports larger pipes -- 40 Gbps initially versus Cyan’s 10 Gbps. Ciena foresees the 5430 finding use in core networking applications in which it offloads pass-through traffic from core routers, which would lower capital expenditures and provide more efficient use of core router ports.

As a point of comparison, Parks felt that the simultaneously announced CoreDirector FS would be used in such applications when large switching capacity would not be required in the near future. The 5430 RSS would be installed if the carrier had more ambitious plans for the node.

Asked about the Alcatel-Lucent announcement, Parks said that while Ciena’s well-established competitor had announced a strategy, his company had debuted actual hardware based on its previously announced “service-enabled network” philosophy. Carriers therefore can turn to Ciena to meet their needs more quickly, he concluded.

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