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An optical amplifier startup claims it can double the distance of SAN traffic over wide-area DWDM (dense wavelength-division multiplexing) networks. If it proves out, the world's longest SANs may be in the offing.

Optovia Corp., based in Acton, Mass., with roughly 40 employees at present, says its new amplifiers carry Fibre Channel traffic over distances up to 200 kilometers, eliminating the cost and complexity of extra, intermediate amplifiers. (Bemused? Stay with us.)

Optovia, founded in 2002, develops optical transport subsystems for telecom and cable service providers. Also among its customers are firms that build systems for enterprises that have their own optical networks.

The number of companies interested in optical networking for SAN transport is growing, according to Niall Robinson, VP of marketing at Optovia. The need for compliance and more storage, as well as increased threats to data centers from hurricanes and other disasters, has brought a run on cheaper-than-ever dark fiber. "Synchronous storage distances are getting wider," Robinson asserts.

Optovia solves a key problem encountered by enterprises that have lit their own fiber -- how to avoid installing amplifiers to freshen Fibre Channel signals. Up to now, so-called mid-span amplifiers have typically been required every 80 kilometers or so, increasing costs and making networks more complicated.

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