Cisco is hedging its bets in the standards race between two different types of network traffic transport.
Last week, the company bought telecoms tools vendor PipeLinks for $126 million (#76 million). PipeLinks makes an SDH/Sonnet router that can simultaneously shuffle traditional, circuit-based telephone traffic and IP traffic. SDH is an international standard for synchronous data transmission over fibre optic cables.
However, Cisco is already working with Ciena, a rival vendor which views Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) as a replacement for SDH. DWDM is a type of multiplexing developed for use on optical fibre.
Ciena believes that as the world moves to carry more data than voice, the all optical network of the future will use DWDM to transmit both types of traffic. Cisco is working to integrate its gigabit switch router with Ciena's optical DWDM technology.
Glenn Ricketts, head of product marketing for Cisco in Europe, confirmed that the company is backing two horses with the recent acquisition. "There is a lot of SDH deployment which is used by telecoms operators to transport voice over high speeds," he said. "DWDM does not transport easily and its target is service providers who want very fast packet networks. It is primarily a data transport layer."
He added: "With the router from PipeLinks, a company can keep its leased line, legacy telephone traffic and its IP/layer 3 traffic going but manage them on one SDH platform and gradually switch all the voice traffic to packets."
- More network news, p23
Earlier this month, Cisco invested $10 million (#6 million) for a minority stake in Bookham Technology, a UK pioneer in the use of silicon for making optical and opto-electronic components.
Last month, Cisco completed its $145 million (#87 million) acquisition of Selsius, which makes network PBX systems for IP networks, and also its acquisition of Clarity Wireless and of Summa Four, the IP telephony switch maker.
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