Ocular ups the ante for density

Ocular Networks believes it can open up new revenue opportunities for carriers by offering a switch that can integrate and groom time-division multiplexer and gigabit data circuits at the edge, easing the inherent inefficiencies of backhauling.

Ocular’s Optical Service Exchange portfolio is designed to provide 10 times the density of next-generation SONET devices, such as Cisco Systems Inc.’s ONS 15454 and Redback Networks Inc.’s SmartEdge 100 and 800, while reducing service-provisioning time at the edge from weeks to minutes.

The ability to groom circuits – packing traffic from smaller pipes together to maximize available bandwidth -makes networks more efficient and enables faster service provisioning. Grooming has usually been the purview of the digital cross connects in the core of a service provider’s point of presence.

Gigabit data services present challenges as well as opportunities for service providers. Gigabit Ethernet switches and access routers are not usually integrated into carriers’ operational support systems the way SONET muxes and digital cross connects are. And adding data services usually means adding data technicians to your staff and payroll.

Ocular’s products integrate and groom TDM and gigabit data circuits at the network edge. Three products make up the Optical Service Exchange portfolio: The OSX 6000 CO aggregation switch, the OSX 1000 multitenant unit/small CO/POP switch, and the MetroWatch management and provisioning system.

The OSX 6000 is a modular gigabit data switch and optical transport system that provides the same time division multiplexing (TDM) service grooming functions of a DCS and add/drop mux in the metro core of the service provider network. It takes in T-1, T-3, 10/100 Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, ATM/frame relay, packet-over-SONET and wavelength services and grooms them for handoff to the long-haul optical core.

OSX 6000 supports line rates from T-1 to OC-192. Ocular claims the OSX 6000 has 14 times the Virtual Tributary (VT)-1.5 density of Cisco’s ONS 15454 and Redback’s SmartEdge devices, and a sevenfold advantage over Ciena’s K2 offering. OSX 6000 has a 13-fold increase over K2 in ATM/frame relay switching capacity, and a 16- to 60-times increased in Ethernet switching capacity over all three competing products, Ocular claims.

Support for IP routing is another key differentiator of the Optical Service Exchange line, according to Ocular.

The MetroWatch management applications has TL-1, CORBA and SNMP interfaces to integrate Optical Service Exchange gear with existing operational support systems and data networking management products. MetroWatch provides point-and-click provisioning of data and TDM voice services, Ocular claims.

As a result, Optical Service Exchange enables service providers to provision T-1 and DS-3 services from the edge in minutes as opposed to weeks or months. Ethernet and IP services are integrated on the same network and service mixing can be accomplished without a truck roll, Ocular claims.

The Optical Service Exchange system takes up one shelf in a rack, whereas the muxes, cross connects and switches and routers it replaces would take up seven racks, Ocular says. The cost of all that gear would be in excess of US$500,000, with a single site entry cost of US$50,000 to US$150,000.

Optical Service Exchange would cut those costs to under US$100,000 and US$10,000, respectively, Ocular says.

Some potential customers vouch for those numbers.

“About three years ago I was sitting around with Fore [Systems] and Nortel [Networks] and those guys, and they were ranting and raving about how one system could do transport for SONET and ATM, and had all the interfaces for Gig E and all this stuff,” said one service provider expecting to receive the OSX products for evaluation. “Whenever Fore drew it up on the board it worked out to about US$400,000. We buy [just] an OC-12 ATM network today for about US$60,000 and [Ocular’s] going to get there at about the same price.”

Ocular is currently in trials with two IXCs and one other service provider, with additional trial customers committed for the first and second quarters of 2001. The OSX product line will be generally available in the second quarter.