At Supercomm 2009 in Chicago I had a chance to speak with MRV Communications a leader in the carrier Ethernet market boasting among other things, access solutions for 10/100 GE, 10GE, SyncE, 1588, SHDSL and fiber which share a common OS and management interface. The 20-year old company was an early innovator in the field of lasers and now employs more than 4,000 engineers, has 6 R&D divisions and $538 million in revenue coming from a broad range of connectivity products primarily targeted at carriers and campus networks.
A common theme at the show was backhaul solutions and MRV too is looking to help carriers as they transition to 4G networks and more importantly the company like others in the market is helping service providers leverage packet-based technologies while giving up little the more expensive and proprietary circuit switched world has to offer.
Case in point is the company’s new synchronization over packet addition to its Optiswitch 900 product line. The goal of this entry is to facilitate the migration to 4G/LTE in mobile backhaul networks. Specifically the environmentally hardened (allows it to be installed almost anywhere) 904-MBH is a compact carrier Ethernet demarcation device supporting IEEE 1588v2 and synchronous Ethernet.
Company execs explained that they didn’t want to have two separate boxes and this new device is the first to to enable synchronization-gateway functionality between synchronous and asynchronous physical layer networks for both 3G and 4G networks.
In addition, this device supports traffic management for enhanced QoS meaning carriers can ensure timing packets have ultimate priority over other packets.
The company also announced its new LambdaDriver IP switching module (OPN 800/1600) for migration to packet optical transport networks. These new carrier Ethernet aggregation switches have 8 GbE ports for access to XFP-based ports for backbone network connections. The products tie into the GMPLS control plane and allow MPLS enforcement and are tunable as well.
The company has put a big focus on SLA assurance and their new OAM techniques are embodied in their new network provisioning ands management software. Among other things this new solution hopes to squeeze fault isolation to minutes instead of hours in order to facilitate more rapid truckrolls. The GUI-based Pro-Vision software platform is touted as an easy-to-use tool allowing central management. In addition, it is designed to allow quicker time to revenue for carriers through its use of pre-defined individual service platforms.
A constant theme recently has been using Ethernet in carrier networks whenever and wherever possible. Logically this is what has to be done as the cost per bit is continuing to decline and margins are being eternally squeezed. Lowering the cost of network infrastructure is the best way to combat this trend. MRV has a suite of solutions they have been successfully selling in the space and they hope to continue in their pursuit to provide more and more strategic solutions to carriers worldwide as they transition to next generation networks.