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Carrier Ethernet, metro optical lead telecom industry trends

Carrier Ethernet led the telecom trends at the telecommunications industry's largest trade show, crowding this market with more vendors, according to IDC analyst Eve Griliches.

Carrier Ethernet developments, the push to use optical networking in metro areas, and equipment with low power consumptions were among the most noticeable trends at one of the largest telecom trade shows in the U.S. IDC Program Director Eve Griliches, who follows the telecom equipment market closely, gives her opinions on what it all means and the vendors that caught her attention.

First, the stats:

Average temperature in Las Vegas: 107 degrees.

Las Vegas has more than 80,000 hotel rooms, boasting an occupancy rate of 90% during the week and 95% on weekends. With 500 exhibitors this year at NXTcomm08, expected attendance was 10,000 to 15,000. While NXTcomm does not release official numbers, the general consensus was that traffic was light, and ranged from 8,000 to 12,000 at the most. Rumors were that some major vendors might even pull out next year because of the average cost of a booth -- about $1 million.

Which trends stuck out?

  • Continued announcements from vendors offer new Carrier Ethernet products, enhancements to current products, and new features or extensions to product lines. Boy, is this market getting crowded!
  • Carrier Ethernet switches are definitely penetrating high-end enterprise verticals.
  • Content providers and service providers that specialize in data centers continue to deploy telecom-centric equipment, since their networks look and feel like service provider networks. What drives this is not just scalability and reliability, but footprint and low power consumption.
  • We see an increasing move of optical equipment from the core to the edge. While the Metro WDM market is clearly taking off, growth of the access metro is emerging, and while optics may not be to the fore in everyone's mind, there are good opportunities in areas such as server interconnects and PC interconnects, where photonic integration may end up playing a part.
  • OEMs seem to be in fashion, and they are clearly just a step away from some M&A action. We expect (given the light traffic as one indication) that some vendors will walk away from some of the markets they've entered.
  • The "green" effect was often discussed, and though footprint and low power consumption make a huge difference to many service providers, what everyone has realized is that as the telecom market is working to improve these things, they will have negligible effects on the overall atmosphere if larger worldwide measures are not taken. In other words -- nice job, but a small contribution to the overall problem.

Impressive displays:

  • Juniper continues to innovate with its PSDP platform, announcing new customers and new applications. Juniper announced that IBM is now using the platform for managed security services, NEC for point to multipoint multicast for streaming IPTV services, and NTT has issued a draft RFC on PCE (path computation element) using the PSDP. Other applications are packet watching where weird behaviors can be monitored for security purposes. Essentially all "good" traffic is thrown away, and suspicious traffic is kept for analysis.
  • Infinera announced its ILS2 PICs, which provide a huge capacity increase on a single fiber, as well as increasing distance to 2,500 km. Key applications for this are "express routes," which are increasingly popular to bypass local routes and travel long distances to major cities. We are seeing this in sub-terrestrial networks as well as terrestrial networks. And the economics in the ULH market are not that far away with this type of system. Unfortunately, Infinera also tends to confuse the financial community, making their accounting harder than it should be, and often their marketing is more technical than it should be.
  • OpVista cleverly displayed the ability to put 40G and even 100G wavelengths onto existing fiber that currently deploys 10G. This is impressive because no change to the initial system is required to support 40G or 100G, and all wavelengths can run on the same fiber. There is no question this private vendor will be acquired by year's end.
  • The long-awaited announcement that Verizon has taken on Fujitsu as a new vendor for its video distribution network was made this week and clearly puts Fujitsu optical products into the top-two Tier 1 service provider networks in NA.

Great quotes; various sources:

  • "Never trust a three-letter acronym."
  • "PBT stands for: proprietary, but tempting."
  • "The speed bumps? In Las Vegas, they're indigenous."

About the author: Eve Griliches is a program director within IDC's Telecommunications Equipment group. She provides in-depth insight and analysis on service provider routers and switches, as well as the optical networking market. Griliches also provides critical business intelligence on emerging technology trends and their impact on the overall telecom market space. Griliches joined IDC in 2005 after 10 years in product management for a number of network equipment vendors. Most recently, she worked at Marconi and PhotonEx, a startup in the 40 Gbps optical long-haul market. Prior to that, Griliches held positions at Wellfleet/Bay Networks/Nortel Networks in the Carrier Routing Division, with strong inter-working with Nortel's Optical groups. She also spent four years at Thinking Machines Corporation, one of the first parallel-processing supercomputer companies.


This was last published in June 2008

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