RBN's '4 x ANY' mini-MSPP enables services on demand

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At SuperComm in Chicago, RBN (San Francisco) launched its RBNi GigaEdge 2330, a mini-multiservice provisioning platform (MSPP) designed to give carriers the ability to provide services on demand. According to the company, its target customers—the carriers—are already lining up to test it out.

GigaEdge 2330 delivers and aggregates broadband services (Ethernet and IP), storage networking or business continuance services (Escon, Ficon, and Fibre Channel), and digital video services and standard SONET/SDH. The platform provides what the company calls a "4 × ANY" service mix. Any of the above services can be plugged into any of the interface ports, explains RBN co-founder and chief technology officer Richard Lauder. "There are no design rules," he says. "You don't need to know exactly which services are going to be used where before you deploy the box, because you're going to use the same box regardless of whether it's Escon or IP or Ethernet or just standard SONET or any mixture of these."Th 155000

With a 1-RU footprint and <40-W power consumption, the RBNi GigaEdge 2330 is deployable anywhere, from building basements and computer rooms to riser systems and telephone exchanges.

The flexibility of the device enables carriers to provide services on demand. The plug and play nature of GigaEdge 2330 facilitates faster service provisioning, and the use of small-form-factor-pluggable (SFP) optics further increases the flexibility on both the client and aggregate ports.

As for the box itself, even the installation is simple, says Lauder. "You put the box in the rack, connect power, connect the desired pluggable optics, and off you go," he explains. All the configuration and reconfiguration is handled remotely.

According to Lauder, today's carriers are interested in equipment that provides a clear migration path from current services to next-generation services. A carrier that today delivers predominantly ATM and Frame Relay services can use the GigaEdge 2330 to gradually transition to an IP/Ethernet-type delivery, he says. "It's very important that the same product is able to aggregate both your existing Frame Relay/ATM/SONET/SDH and your new IP/Ethernet services—or even migrate to new services and new service deliveries like storage networking," he notes.

British Telecom (BT—London), for example, has publicly announced its desire to migrate its current services offerings to higher margin, value-added services in the future, reports Lauder. "They talk about having a migration path and gradually enabling continued delivery of services, collapsing services and collapsing networks in a way that keeps costs low and retains flexibility," he says. "They want a futureproof solution. The product we have here is very well targeted to initiatives like BT's 21st Century Network."

Carriers are also looking to reuse their existing infrastructure; the GigaEdge 2330 accommodates this desire via standards-based multiplexing techniques, including frame-mapped and transparent generic framing procedure and contiguous and virtual concatenation. The use of standards enables the RBN box to interoperate seamlessly with a variety of SONET/SDH add/drop multiplexers and crossconnects, eliminating the need for bookending proprietary multiplexers. Even the management interface employs standard SONET/SDH DCC management capabilities that allow GigaEdge 2330 to connect directly into the existing SONET/SDH network.

"The concept of aggregating services is not new," admits Lauder. "What is new is doing it in a package that also provides simplicity, flexibility, a migration path, and the ability to reuse the existing infrastructure and transition to a new, improved infrastructure."

There is already "a queue of carriers who want to trial" GigaEdge 2330, reports Lauder. The product will ship to select customers in the third quarter, with general availability expected early in the fourth quarter. He expects to have a backlog of orders as the company moves from controlled availability to general availability, which, he adds, "is a nice, healthy situation for a product launch."

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