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Sycamore aims to speed service

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CHELMSFORD, MASS. - Sycamore Networks is boasting that its network management system can provision optical circuits within seconds rather than weeks or months with the click of a mouse on a map of a circuit's endpoints.

Part of the boast is that Sycamore has performed a successful all-out network management integration so optical networks can include the gear the company acquired just five months ago when it bought Sirocco Systems.

If Sycamore pulls it off, this capability should mean shorter times between ordering and receiving services, and the services should cost less because the underlying network is more efficient, says Andy McCormick, an analyst with Aberdeen Group in Boston.

Sycamore says this ability comes with the integration of its Silvx management software with Sirocco's management platform, as well as the melding of Sycamore's BroadLeaf signaling and routing technology with Sirocco's.

This fast provisioning is attractive to LDCOM, a France-based carriers' carrier that uses optical gear Sycamore developed before buying Sirocco last June. "We can provision efficiently and cost-effectively," says Fred Gastaldo, chief operation officer of LDCOM, which has put in an order for the former Sirocco access equipment to serve LDCOM's metropolitan markets. He says it will cost LDCOM 30% less to set up the network using Sycamore equipment vs. traditional SONET gear.

The carrier will also reap savings in operating costs because it will take fewer people to provision bandwidth, Gastaldo says.

But he acknowledges LDCOM has not used the promised end-to-end provisioning in its network. Carriers will want proof that Sycamore can live up to its claims, says Maribel Dolinov, an analyst with Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass.

"I've talked to a lot of carriers on this, and they all say point-and-click provisioning doesn't exist from anybody," she says. "They don't believe anybody. The issue is that the equipment is still in beta [testing], so they can't say point-and-click works in actual networks." Moreover, except for carriers building all-new networks based on Sycamore gear, other equipment in segments of networks will block this point-and-click provisioning, she says.

According to Jonathan Reeves, vice president of Sycamore's optical edge business unit and Sirocco founder, the access switches that came from Sirocco will ship fully integrated with Silvx early next year, enabling carriers to turn up services faster.

This is key, says Anna Reidy, an analyst with Ryan Hankin Kent in Boston, because new carriers that might buy this equipment are under pressure from investors to start making money. "You don't want to turn customers away because you can't provide services fast enough," she says. "There's been lots of capital spending, and the markets want to see the revenue side."

The faster Sycamore integrates the two product lines the better, says Alex Benik, an analyst with The Yankee Group in Boston. "The market is crowded, so there will be a significant penalty for being late," he says.

A reason for Sycamore's speed here might be the relationship among Sycamore founders Desh Deshpende and Dan Smith and Sirocco founder Reeves. When Deshpende and Smith were with Cascade Communications, it bought and integrated an earlier Reeves start-up, Sahara Networks, Benik notes.

Like Sycamore-developed equipment, the former Sirocco gear, now called the SN 3000 and SN 4000, enables carriers to set up meshed, switched optical networks rather than the traditional SONET-ring configuration. Sycamore says its switches restore broken connections as quickly as SONET.



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