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MSPPs Challenge Channel Extenders

Tensions are building between two camps of vendors eager to cash in on a growing market for carrier-provided Sonet SAN services.

Carriers are showing more interest in offering SAN connectivity over metro Sonet networks these days, as evidenced by a rash of new telecom offerings from components to high-end transport platforms (see Galazar Puts SANs in the Frame and Sonet SANs Surging, Suppliers Say).

The trend highlights a basic clash between makers of Sonet gear and vendors that sell channel-extension devices meant to work with Sonet networks. On the one hand, those that offer Sonet multiservice provisioning platforms (MSPPs) say carriers, particularly the sought-after ILECs, don't want separate channel extension products anymore.

The MSPP argument, put forward by the likes of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. (FNC), Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), and other MSPP providers, is that carriers like a so-called integrated solution. They want to add a SAN services module to a platform that already meets telco requirements for management and network performance. Channel extenders, this group holds, are chiefly enterprise products.

The channel extender side, represented by vendors like Computer Network Technology Corp. (CNT) (Nasdaq: CMNT) and Akara, the company purchased by Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) last year (see Ciena Plunks Down $45M for Akara), say MSPPs don't have the sophisticated data compression, flow control, and buffering capabilities they've perfected over years of working with enterprise customers.

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