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Cable Technology Feature Article

October 14, 2009

Ciena Takes CoreDirector into the Next Generation, Unveils Two New Multiservice Switches

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, IP Communications Magazines

Ciena has unveiled what it is calling an “enhancement” to its CoreDirector switch, but because the CoreDirector FS involves a new chassis and new software, it kind of sounds like a whole new product (although it does use the same control plane as existing CoreDirector solutions). In any case, Ciena says the FS will allow service providers to transition from SONET/SDH to Ethernet/OTN-based networks.


The company today also unveiled two products under its new 5400 family of reconfigurable switching systems.


“It opens the door to a number of news applications for us,” says Dave Parks, product marketing director for Ciena’s packet products portfolio, in discussing the CoreDirector FS Multiservice Optical Switch.


For example, paired with Ciena’s 4200 solution, the CoreDirector FS can support digital video content distribution. The FS also will enable carriers to deliver Ethernet services over an optical infrastructure, he says. Ciena has been outfitting submarine cable operators for years, Parks adds, but bringing OTN into the fold will now enable those links – many of which are now being upgraded – to support multiple service requirements.


Ciena’s CoreDirector is deployed in both terrestrial and submarine networks at some of the world’s largest operators including AT&T, BT, Cable & Wireless, Sprint (News - Alert), Tata Communications, Telmex and Verizon Business.


The FS includes new hardware modules and software-programmable port technology called FlexiPorts. The software is modular. As mentioned above, it supports OTN, which enables the FS to act as a gateway between legacy SONET/SDH and next-generation networks. And the FS can work with the CN 4200 to allow forend-to-end automated service delivery.



As for the 5400 Family of Reconfigurable Switching Systems, it’s a two-product family for the time being. That includes the 5430, a 3.6terabit switch designed to fit a single rack, and the 5410, a 1.2 terabit switch about half size of the 5430.


These devices can work in various capacities, including as cross-connects or Ethernet switches and support a wide variety of popular technologies including Carrier Ethernet, MPLS, OTN, SONET and WDM. Because these devices are modular, Parks says, carrier customers need only pay for the capabilities they require. But the fact that these devices can support a variety of services, he adds, means service providers can realize economies of scales in terms of tech training and sparing.


“It’s a new approach to networking,” says Parks, referring to the Ciena strategy around the new products and enhancements unveiled today. “This is really the industry’s first truly modular networking platform.”


Edited by Michael Dinan