Ciena enters PONP market with new CN 4200 modules

JANUARY 9, 2008 By Meghan Fuller Hanna -- Ciena has added Layer 2 Ethernet switch modules to its CN 4200 Layer 0/1 transport platform, thereby creating a packet-optical network platform.

JANUARY 9, 2008 By Meghan Fuller Hanna -- Ciena Corp. (search for Ciena) today introduced the G10 and G10X Ethernet service modules for its CN 4200 FlexSelect Advanced Services Platform family. When populated with one or more of these Layer 2 Ethernet switch modules, the CN 4200 can act as a packet optical network platform (search for PONP).

By all accounts, the PONP market is white hot right now. Heavy Reading's Sterling Perrin believes the PONP market will net $144 million worldwide by the end of the year--and that's up from essentially no revenue in 2007. Michael Howard, principal analyst at Infonetics Research forecasts the market to reach $1.7 billion by 2010.

Dave Parks, product marketing manager for Ciena's data networking products, reports that the company's customers "have been pushing us really hard for this. We've been seeing a ton of interest from our installed base of CN 4200 customers as well as from some prospects. As Ethernet becomes a bigger and bigger piece of the network, both as an infrastructure technology as well as a service, there's a lot of real quantifiable benefits to converging some of these different technologies into a single platform," he says. "We see that, and we're going after it."

Parks says the new modules simplify IP/Ethernet service architectures and optimize the cost and efficiency of network resources by reducing the number of router ports, metro WDM client ports and wavelengths, and standalone Ethernet switches--often resulting in capex savings of more than 50%.

And this really gets to heart of why the company has added Layer 2 switching to the CN 4200.

Traditional Layer 0/1 metro transport networks were not designed to multiplex Layer 2 Ethernet, thereby necessitating the collocation of standalone Ethernet switches with those traditional transport devices. And this adds both cost and complexity to the network, says Parks.

Without the intelligence to allocate lower speed services into smaller bandwidth increments, every connection must be transported individually, thereby increasing the number of ports, wavelengths, and switching and routing resources.

Parks explains the business case for the G10/G10x enhanced CN 4200 using a typical broadband services application. Say a service provider has 60 DSLAMs/CMTSs in a metro area, each of which has a Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) uplink into the network. "In most networks, you'll find that there is some kind of access node that's essentially transporting all that traffic," says Parks. "You've got 60 GbEs going into those access nodes, [requiring] roughly eight DWDM units to support that network." Those eight DWDM units will each transport a 10-Gbit/sec wavelength into the metro node, where an additional eight DWDM units are required to receive those wavelengths. Those DWDM units will then disperse the original 60 GbE connections to an IP edge router.

Enter the G10. That same service provider still has 60 DSLAMs/CMTSs that are still feeding 60 GbE connections into eight CN 4200s. "Nothing's changed there," says Parks. "But where you start to see the savings is that now, instead of the eight 10-Gig wavelengths, we only need one 10-Gig wavelength or OTU2. That's because the G10 is aggregating all those GbEs that may only be carrying 100 or 50 Mbits worth of traffic. We pack all that traffic very efficiently into a single wavelength, which translates into the need for only one 4200 at the other end [versus] eight WDM units," he asserts. That G10 then hands the aggregated Ethernet traffic onto the edge router.

"So instead of having 60 GbE connections to that router, you now only need nine GbE connections," Parks maintains. In other words, the aggregation features of the G10 result in a 60:9 savings in required IP router ports, which, in turn, lowers the service provider's capex costs.

Target applications for the CN 4200 with new Layer 2 Ethernet aggregation and switching capabilities include Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF)-based Carrier Ethernet services, broadband aggregation for triple-play and IPTV services, and 3G wireless backhaul. Critical for these applications is the ability to ensure strict quality of service (QoS) and to support connection-oriented Ethernet for deterministic, reliable, and manageable IP/Ethernet services and transport. For connection-oriented Ethernet, the G10 modules initially support provisioned VLAN cross-connects, says Parks, who notes that Ciena will also add support for Provider Backbone Bridging-Traffic Engineering (PBB-TE) in the second half of this year.

The G10 Ethernet Services Module features ten ports of 10/100/1000 Mbit/sec Ethernet, while the G10X Ethernet Services Module features one port of 10 Gigabit Ethernet. Both modules provide advanced Layer 2 switching, including support for Ethernet Operations, Administration & Maintenance (OAM), Link Aggregation, hierarchical QoS, and connection-oriented Ethernet features, says the company. In addition, the Layer 2 switching fabric of the G10 and G10X cards is fully distributed and available to traffic entering on Layer 1 ports in other modules on CN 4200 platforms.

Both modules are compatible with all new and deployed CN 4200 platforms, including the two-slot CN 4200 MC, the four-slot CN 4200 classic, and the 16-slot CN 4200 RS.

The G10 and G10X modules will be available for trials in the first calendar quarter of this year.

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