Alidian Networks touts ATM software

Alidian Networks Inc. has announced the availability of its new ASI software, ATM Service Intelligence, which the company says will let its Optical Service Node family of products perform virtual path muxing.

This capability enables service aggregation, rate control and quality of service (QoS) on a per-port or per-connection basis, according to Alidian. This improves bandwidth utilization in DSL access multiplexer (DSLAM) applications where aggregated DSL traffic is transported via ATM interfaces. The traffic originates from remote sites and is aggregated for transmission to central data centres.

ASI software works by looking at the standard ATM virtual path identifiers that define connection paths. The OSN system then performs service aggregation, QoS and rate control on a per-virtual path basis. Traffic from multiple ATM connections is aggregated onto a single physical port and handed off to an ATM core switch or router.

Michael Howard, principal analyst and co-founder of Infonetics Research Inc. says this type of traffic collection is less expensive than having separate ATM switches for each central office. However, he notes that the need for Alidian’s software also depends greatly on the distance between the central office and the service provider’s ATM box.

“The distance could really be a factor as well as the number of central offices that need to be aggregated together,” he says. “It may just make more sense to use longer-distance DS-3s instead of software like this.”

Alidian touts that service aggregation as key because most client traffic is generally bound for the same destination in both DSLAM and high-speed Internet access applications.

Howard agrees and says that Alidian is taking advantage of its ability to pack multiple services onto a single wavelength. He also says Alidian has timed the release perfectly to entice more carriers with the added functionality.

“What they’re doing is extending their capabilities by adding ATM functionality to their products,” he says. “They’ve seen and are taking advantage of the widespread opportunity for this type of functionality for edge routers and optical gear.”

Howard says Alidian is also taking advantage of the expanding DSL market.

“This market is still growing,” he says. “It’s not growing fast, but it certainly isn’t dead.”

The ASI software runs on Alidian’s DS-3, OC-3 and OC-12 ATM service interface modules. The announcement follows the recent unveiling of the company’s Ethernet Service Intelligence software designed to make SONET more data optimized.

ASI was designed with Alidian’s WavePack technology that transports multiple types of traffic in native mode over a wavelength. Alidian claims to have added service intelligence functions not found in SONET and dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) networks typically used for ATM transport. The company further touts that it has left out ATM-switch complexity, calling it overkill for transport-level applications.

The patent-pending WavePack technology was designed to conserve wavelengths to help make metropolitan DWDM more cost-effective. This is done by cramming multiple protocols and services into each SONET/SDH-framed wavelength. WavePack has a number of service interfaces, including ATM, Packet over SONET, Ethernet, time-division multiplexing and storage-area networking.

The software will be available later this month and cost US$10,000 per OSN system. It will run on any Alidian system equipped with an eight-port DS-3 ATM card (US$12,000); an eight-port OC-3 ATM/packet over SONET card (US$20,000); or a two-port OC-12 ATM/packet over SONET card (US$18,000).

Similar offerings can be found in any multiservice provisioning platform that has ATM and DWDM capabilities, Infonetics Research’s Howard says. Astral Point Communications Inc. has this type of functionality in its ON 5000 box, as will Ocular Networks Inc. when it releases ATM interfaces for its gear.

Despite several staff cuts earlier this year and trouble finding more funding, Howard says this release by Alidian demonstrates that the start-up has the drive to more additional functionality to its hefty arsenal of capabilities.

“To characterize this as a last-ditch effort for something implies that the company is almost dead,” he says. “I don’t think this is the case. For any start-up, having more functionality to solve a problem that carriers have identified is a good business plan.”

Both software devices operate in all three of Alidian’s OSN boxes, the OSN 4200, 4400 and 4800.