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14 November 2011
ECI Telecom has added new capabilities to packet-optical transport with the launch of its Apollo platforms. The Apollo 9600 series combines carrier Ethernet switch router (CESR) and IP functionality with optical transmission. 
The privately-owned system vendor refers to the capabilities of the combined platform as optimised multi-layer transport (OMLT) although industry analysts view the announcement as a natural extension of packet-optical transport systems rather than a new platform category.  
“It is a big announcement for ECI and a big announcement for the industry," said Sterling Perrin, senior analyst at Heavy Reading. “They are doing with the technology some fundamental things that are new.” 
These include putting DWDM transport with the CESR platform, and moving OTN switching fabric into the metro network. So far OTN has been largely confined to the core network. 
ECI has announced six Apollo platforms that span access, metro and core. The platforms include the SR 9601 and OPT 9603 for metro access and SR 9604 and OPT 9608 for the metro edge, with four and eight input-output (I/O) cards respectively, which support WDM or 100 Gbps Ethernet MPLS packet switching. The final two platforms are the OPT 9624 for metro core and the OPT 9648 for regional and long haul. These largest members of the Apollo series can accommodate a terabit universal switch. 
Overall Apollo can support 44 or 88 light paths at 10, 40 and 100 Gbps; 2-degree and multi-degree colourless, directionless and contentionless ROADMs; OTN and Ethernet switching and IP/ MPLS and MPLS-TP. 
“MPLS-TP versus IP/ MPLS is almost a religious issue yet both are valid,” said Oren Marmur, head of optical networking and CESR lines of business at ECI Telecom. He adds that Apollo will use 40 Gbps coherent and direct-detection technologies while at 100 Gbps it will use coherent only.
The Apollo family of platforms can be configured as CESR platforms, OTN switches, optical transport platforms or combinations of the three.
By Roy Rubenstein