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SANs See Sonet

Networking heavyweights Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) are planning to roll out Fibre-Channel-over-Sonet extensions to their product lines this year, promising to give the emerging segment another big push forward.

Nortel, which has dominated the storage-over-WDM (wavelength-division multiplexing) market, is planning to provide FC-over-Sonet support for its OPTera Metro 5000 platforms sometime in the second quarter of 2003.

Most enterprises have several smaller, remote sites with SANs, but they don't want or need high-bandwidth WDM, says Jack Hunt, director of marketing in Nortel's optical storage connectivity division. "We're interested in enabling a lower-bandwidth storage-over-optical service," he says, "and we think Sonet is the best way to enable that."

Meanwhile, Cisco's on the storage-over-Sonet path, too, but it isn't revealing its plans in this area just yet. "You'll see storage over Sonet, at the OC3 and OC12 layers," says Carl Engineer, senior director of marketing for Cisco's optical networking group.

Cisco is developing FC-over-Sonet as a standalone system or as blades for its existing optical platforms. "Different solutions will be required by different customers," Engineer says. "For our installed base, a blade will be a good solution; if you're a smaller customer, a standalone box will be better."

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