Nortel's Morin on optical networking

Philippe Morin, the general manager of Nortel Networks' division of optical networks, see his division as a growth area for the network equipment provider. While optical networking will likely never be as big for the company as it was before the dot-com bust, he expects to see continued growth, especially among enterprise users, the financial industry and in health care. Morin spoke recently with Computerworld to track what's been going on with optical networks at Nortel. It's a big focus for Nortel. It's on an uptick now.

Viewed at the height of the market bubble, perhaps in the year 2000, we had business in long-haul optical networks, such as linking L.A. to New York, where network carriers built these fiber broadband networks, including 10 Gigabit/sec. Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM). We had a substantial market share. Even then, metropolitan areas were getting fiberized in places such as London and Paris and New York, where you'd see fiber brought to major buildings. The big build-out was 1999 to 2001.

At Nortel, optical was 50 percent of our business in 2000, and now you look at it and it's 10 percent to 15 percent. But the enterprise customer piece is going very well. Our portfolio has long-haul fiber and metro DWDM, and we serve business enterprises such as banks and network carriers. A big feature is our Optical Metro 5000 switch platform.

So, if you go back to the heyday of long-haul DWDM, we're now again seeing good growth in the optical business.

Why? There are some major drivers. On the carrier side, we are getting optical transport, video-on-demand, and IP TV. Regional Bell operating companies and cable TV companies are driving a lot of growth on optical, whether metro or regional.

Enterprise is another growth segment. We see three verticals mainly. One is financial, including major banks. For disaster recovery, our value is we bring storage connectivity and (connectivity) between storage sites with the OM5000. Fourteen of the 15 biggest banks are using our equipment, and the reason is our reliability. We are recognized for quality and reliability. We've gone after that segment for four or five years. Banks might use us to connect their servers in Manhattan with New Jersey and (across) longer distances for storage connectivity. Sometimes it is a (120-mile) type of distance, and now we have the capability for really long distance -- say from L.A. to New York.

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