Cisco aids move to optical networking

Cisco has released its latest optical router for IP networks amid what is being described by analysts as a movement towards optical networking, writes Antony Adshead.

The Optical Services Router 7600 consists of a hardware platform with software that gives it the ability to track the types of traffic being transmitted and prioritise it. The router is aimed at carriers' POPs (point of presence) and metropolitan area network operators using Sonet and Gigabit Ethernet.

The benefits of optical networking are already being reaped by carriers but are also starting to become attractive to corporate users. Optical networking allows greater scalability by using new wavelengths, rather than digging new trenches and adding more fibre. In addition, savings on power can have knock-on benefits to server power supply, air conditioning and power back-up requirements.

According to Yum Petkovic, an analyst with Ovum, even small businesses can benefit from optical networking. "Large corporates are already starting to benefit from smaller versions of what goes into the network. Many corporates already have fibre into the building and the situation for multi-tenant building occupiers is going that way too. So the ability to extend optical services to these customers is a natural progression," she said.

"There are a number of vendors who have already brought out downsized boxes which are being deployed to corporates and buildings. I think that we are seeing the start of a movement here," Petkovic added.

Additional benefits of optical networking and its quality of service prioritisation are the ability to ensure smooth transmission of time-sensitive applications, such as VoIP and video conferencing.

Cisco's 7600 OSR consists of a 256gbps switching fabric and has a forwarding engine with a capacity of 30 million packets per second.

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