FEBRUARY 26, 2007 By Meghan Fuller -- Ciena Corp. (search for Ciena) today became the latest system vendor to announce its Ethernet strategy. The company is enhancing the IP and Ethernet value proposition of its existing FlexSelect architecture with the introduction of two new product lines, the CN 3000 Ethernet Access Series and the CN 5000 Packet Services Series. Both product lines are designed to bring the simplicity and economics of optics into the Ethernet domain, enabling service providers to more easily deploy converged networks.
"Ethernet over SONET is fine, but everything is going Ethernet," explains Vinay Rathore, Ciena's director of service provider marketing. "You don't want to just use the SONET network, because that can get expensive over time. You want to find a way to integrate Ethernet directly into your transmission networks to help bring the low cost of optics with the quality of optics to Ethernet. And that's what we're trying to do," he says.
"We're trying to bring the simplicity and the price points of the transport space to the Ethernet space."
For this reason, Ciena today introduced the CN 3000 and the CN 5000, which are designed to complement its CN 4000 Transport and Switching Series and its core Transport and Switching Series of products.
The CN 3000 Ethernet Access Series comprises Ethernet network termination equipment (NTE) that provides Ethernet over any access mechanism, be it copper or fiber, says Rathore. The CN 3000 Series resides at the customer premises to provide managed Ethernet demarcation between carrier and enterprise networks and NTE aggregators located in central offices or distribution hubs to aggregate traffic from multiple NTE devices.
Certified compliant to MEF-9 and MEF-14 specifications, the initial products in the 3000 Series include both fiber and copper NTE and aggregators for providing Ethernet-over-TDM and Ethernet-over-fiber access. According to Ciena, additional products slated for launch later this year include a multiservice NTE that supports both Ethernet and TDM for 2G/3G wireless backhaul, Ethernet-over-DSL, and standalone Ethernet-over-fiber aggregator applications.
The CN 5000 Series, meanwhile, is "all about ensuring you can do packet-oriented functionality," says Rathore. "It's very much a packet-heavy product. It does the IP, it does the MPLS, it does all the pseudowire functionality that is required. But it also directly interfaces to the optical backbone," he says. "Most of the devices out there today are either very packet friendly or very optics friendly, and there's usually not much interaction between the two. You have to buy two boxes, an optical device and a packet device. This box is very much packet-heavy, but it also has the optics friendliness."
More specifically, Ciena today introduced the CN 5060 Multiservice Carrier Ethernet Platform, which it says is currently in trials with service providers. According to the company, the CN 5060 delivers E-Line and E-LAN services, advanced Ethernet interworking for Layer 2 services, MPLS functionality, and support for TDM-over-packet (TDMoP) capabilities to enable service providers to deliver any service over a performance-grade Carrier Ethernet network.
Other features of the CN 5060 include:
Ciena believes its integration of Ethernet and Optical Transport Network (search for OTN) technology is a key differentiator. According to Rathore, OTN "becomes far more important in the Ethernet space because you can put any kind of Ethernet onto it--1 Gig, 10-Gig, 10-GigE LAN PHY, and 10-GigE WAN PHY--alongside all the other services that networks still require that are non-Ethernet."
OTN technology enables Ciena to create connection-oriented or fixed paths in the connectionless IP/MPLS environment. The company calls its technology "connection-oriented Ethernet over OTN" because it enables a connection from point A to point B, even though the traffic running next to it may be connectionless.
That said, the company also has plans to implement Provider Backbone Bridging-Traffic Engineering (PBB-TE), a subset of Provider Backbone Transport (search for PBT) that also enables circuit-like connections. "We will implement PBB-TE at some point," Rathore confirms. "Because the standards are still developing and because there's more than one way to do it, we're going to let the market tell us how they want to do it."
For his part, Rathore believes service providers will embrace Ciena's Ethernet strategy for its economic benefits. "The whole point is not only do you want to make Ethernet performance-grade and manageable just like TDM circuits, but you want to do it without sacrificing cost," says Rathore. "We've run some business models comparing the traditional approach versus our approach, and we've actually reduced the total cost of ownership of the network by over a third," he reports.
The CN 3000 and 5000 series will be available in the second quarter of 2007.