Chiaro finds big brother in ECI

Israeli network vendor ECI Telecom has purchased a $6 million stake in high-end router start-up Chiaro Networks to become the exclusive distributor of Chiaro's Enstara platform.

As part of the deal, ECI also has the option to acquire Chiaro, which has raised more than $210 million since its founding in 2000.

Enstara has been shipping for 18 months and is installed in the IP/MPLS core network of San Francisco CLEC IP Networks, and in a grid network at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology.

Enstara is an optical crossbar switch that leverages optics to switch packets internally among line cards. Chiaro claims to have 50 patents issued on Enstara's design, including a so-called Optical Phased Array (OPA) technique which uses scores of gallium-arsenide optical waveguides in parallel to refract light, under electrical stimulation, from a single ingress fiber to multiple egress fibers.

The router also features a reliability technique called Stateful Assured Routing (STAR). STAR is designed to provide non-disruptive routing protocol switchover in the event of potential outages caused by protocol resets and route convergence times.  It does this, Chiaro officials say, by maintaining TCP state and sessions during resynchronization. Failover is undetectable by a Chiaro routing peer, they claim, and packet forwarding is uninterrupted.

Chiaro competes with the highest-end routers from Cisco, Juniper Networks, Avici Systems and Alcatel, and with the systems of another start-up, Caspian Networks.

ECI customers include major carriers in Europe, such as British Telecom, France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom.

"The net-net of this announcement is that it portends increased activity in the core router market, on the heels of solid and consistent quarter-to-quarter market growth over the last year," says Analyst Mark Seery of reseach firm RHK. "Though the IP core is widely viewed today as a duopoly (of Cisco and Juniper), various relationships exist which indicates that all major telecom vendors remain interested and engaged in this market, in one way or another."

This story, "Chiaro finds big brother in ECI" was originally published by The Edge.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.