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XKL Brings New Life To Dark Fiber

New system from Cisco co-founder Len Bosack taps existing cable for low-cost, no-fuss optical networks.

THE UPSHOT
CLAIM:  XKL promises to revolutionize enterprise networking with an inexpensive, low-maintenance, easily configured gateway that employs wavelength division multiplexing over fiber cable. Its rack-mounted switch provides gobs of bandwidth at a fraction of the cost of carrier-provided optical systems.
CONTEXT:  The market for optical fiber networks will grow 14% annually over the next few years, according to research firm Infonetics. While there are other niche players out there, the networking industry's leading manufacturers--including Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, and Nortel--haven't aimed directly at this part of the enterprise market.
CREDIBILITY:  XKL CEO Len Bosack helped create the enterprise networking market 24 years ago as co-founder of Cisco, giving him bona fides that are impossible to ignore. At the same time, 17 years is a long time to be in startup mode, and the long period of relative invisibility means that two or three generations of networking technology have come and gone since Bosack last made an impact on the industry.
Networking specialist XKL, a 17-year-old "startup" headed by Cisco Systems co-founder Len Bosack, is getting attention because of that lineage--as well as for the audacious claims it makes for its new enterprise fiber optic switch.

XKL's mission is to let businesses create high-speed optical networks at a fraction of the cost of carrier-provided services. Its DXM Optical Transport System can "change the way" companies deploy IT, says Bosack.

How so? XKL's technology adds wavelength division multiplexing--which creates multiple data channels, each with its own wavelength, over a fiber optic link--to wide area networks. It does so using dark fiber--cable that's in the ground but not being used--at a fraction of the cost of what big carriers charge. "People in the party days were putting fiber in the ground at an incredible pace," says Bosack, referring to the dot-com era of the 1990s, "and there it still is."

InformationWeek Reports

Cutting costs is only half of XKL's proposition; the other half is ease of deployment and ongoing management. Optical switching systems tend to require deep expertise, but XKL claims its system can be managed by network administrators who aren't optical networking specialists.

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