Calient Develops Stand-Alone Switching Controller

Calient Networks came to Supercomm with the industry's first generalized multiprotocol label switching controller.

June 24, 2004

2 Min Read
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CHICAGO — Calient Networks Inc., which has been exploring new markets for its photonic switch technologies, came to Supercomm with the industry's first generalized multiprotocol label switching controller.

While several router, Sonet and photonic switch vendors have already developed internal G-MPLS control blades, none have used the generalized processor functions to control systems outside their own devices.

Calient's 1U box is a pure electronic control element, but is based on G-MPLS Calient's photonic switch work. G-MPLS is a broader version of the MPLS standard, intended to extend the IP flow-mapping functions into the optical domain.

Ron Mackey, Calient's chief marketing officer, said the company stepped up because no other vendor wanted to develop a standalone controller to allow legacy routing and IP switching devices to interface with G-MPLS systems.If G-MPLS becomes as widespread as MPLS, Mackey said the controller could become one of Calient's most important products.

The company also introduced a special module here for amplifying incoming optical signals to compensate for optical loss, in effect replacing erbium-doped fiber amps in many applications. The OAO module will enter production in September.Calient said it had deployed what it claims in the world's largest photonic switch, 320 by 320 elements, in a secret U.S. government application provided by a systems integrator. The switch uses a prototype version of the OAO module. Mackey said the switch is not being used in a lab trial, but is "handling real traffic in a government application."

A month ago, Calient was one of several companies on a team called Lasor, for Label-Switched Optical Router, that received a $6.3 million Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency grant to explore optical label switching using G-MPLS and other control-plane methods. The Darpa contract has an alternate phase that will raise the total to $15.8 million.

Other members of Lasor include Agility Communications, Cisco Systems Inc., JDS Uniphase, Stanford University and the University of California at Santa Barbara.

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