by Stephen Hardy
The transition from a variety of networks, all built upon different protocols, to a converged infrastructure based in all likelihood on Ethernet promises to save carriers a lot of headaches. But until that happy day, headaches will remain a fact of life. One current problem is how to continue to support multiprotocol services over an Ethernet backbone. Avvio Networks (www.avvionetworks.com) believes it has helped solve this issue with the release of the AM2548 10–Gigabit Ethernet Muxponder Module. Avvio management touts the new subsystem as a “universal” muxponder that will accept a variety of protocols on the client side and muxpond them into a single 10–Gigabit Ethernet stream.
Avvio developed the module, designed for installation into the company's A2500 and A2050 chassis, as a result of customer requests, say Leo Goyette, CEO, and Rick Madden, sales manager.
“The problem our customers are faced with is that things are moving to Ethernet networking at a pretty good clip. Yet, at the same time, a lot of our customers still have SONET or they have Fibre Channel or they have other examples of what are becoming legacy protocols in their network. They need to switch to Ethernet and, at the same time, they still have to service their customers,” Goyette explains. The most common approach in these instances is to install a range of transponders, one for each protocol the carrier needs to support, and then multiplex the streams together onto an Ethernet link. The AM2548 decreases capital and operational expenses by replacing these multiple elements with a single module that can accept SONET/SDH, Fibre Channel, and any other protocol simultaneously and multiplex this divergent traffic into a single 10–Gigabit Ethernet stream.
“This productâ�¦allows the legacy, streaming protocols and some newer protocols, like video, that are going to require streaming data, to run over an Ethernet network. And it also allows them to run on a 10–Gigabit Ethernet network, which gives you enough bandwidth to handle the data rates that people are experiencing today,” Goyette says.
The AM2548 accepts up to eight client–side signals at any rate between 155 Mbps and 4.25 Gbps, up to a combined maximum of 10 Gbps. The user does not have to program the box for the different protocols that will be used; however, the user does have to inform the module of the speeds of the different incoming streams to avoid exceeding the 10–Gbps maximum. “We have some future plans for when you're doing Ethernet that will allow for oversubscription, but that's not something we're releasing with the first release of the product,” Goyette allows.
Avvio uses a proprietary process—“It's similar to technology used for voice over IP and things like that,” Goyette says—to convert the incoming streams into an Ethernet–friendly format. “Fundamentally, we're putting the Ethernet header and the Ethernet CRC around the incoming data,” he explains. “What comes out of the box actually are Ethernet packets, and they can be routed through a router just like any Ethernet packet.” Because of the proprietary conversion process, another AM2548 is required at the other end of the link when it is time to transform the signals back into their original protocols, he adds.
While the company's customer base has traditionally comprised mainly Tier 2 and 3 carriers, Goyette and Madden believe their new offering will appeal to a wide variety of potential customers. For example, Madden says that university campuses represent a particularly good application.
“Most of the college campuses are running a 10–Gbps backbone. And most of them are Ethernet,” he explains. “They've got traffic coming from the computer center, they've got traffic coming from both hard–wired and wireless phones, [plus] video, library, teaching technologies going back and forth around campus. And we think that this particular product will really simplify their requirements.”
The AM2548 should be available for sampling to beta customers next month, with general availability slated for this April.