JULY 19, 2010 By Stephen Hardy -- The former Calient Networks, maker of all-optical switching systems, has a new name, new leadership, new lines of business and, with luck, will soon have about $10 million of new money in the bank. The company, renamed Calient Technologies, will augment its current system portfolio by offering optical switching and related subsystems as well as custom “white box” products, says new CEO and board member Greg Koss.
The remaking of the company began when the founder and managing partner of long-time Calient investor Telesoft Partners, Arjun Gupta, became chairman of the switch maker. He lured Koss, who had recently retired from serving as senior advisor as well as executive chairman and CEO at BTI Systems, to the CEO role. Koss says he determined that the company’s flagship all-optical switching systems, such as the FiberConnect 320X, performed very well, but were too big for deployment in data centers, carrier nodes, and other locations in which colorless, directionless, and contentionless optical switching -- potentially integrated with other functions -- was becoming desirable.
Koss therefore decided that the time was right for Calient to get into the subsystems business. The portfolio will launch with three building blocks:
- a 3D MEMS-based switch module, initially based on Calient’s existing 320-port matrices (with a 1,080-port capability expected in the second half of next year). Such a module will address high-traffic, multi-degree applications at lower price points and power consumption than current wavelength-selective switches, Koss says.
- an optical monitoring module, developed by a Wuhan-based partner, that uses scanning mirrors to measure input and output optical parameters for 320 terminations
- a systems configuration module
In addition to offering these products, which should begin to roll out in the first half of 2011, Calient also will offer to combine all or some of these building blocks into custom products for customers, Koss says. The company plans to target router, packet switching, optical transport, and server vendors.
While this “Calient 3D MEMS Inside” strategy develops, Koss says the company will not neglect its systems business. Koss says that a round of cost-optimization should make products like the FiberConnect 320X more attractive. He sees an opportunity for the platform in government applications, and has hired a new sales team to take advantage of it.
To fund this expansion, Gupta and Koss have opened a new funding round which they hope will raise $10 million. Koss expects approximately half of the money will come from inside investors, with the rest coming from strategic investors interested in leveraging Calient’s new capabilities.
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