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4/17/2008
09:30 AM
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XKL Finds A Niche

Its DWDM appliance gives companies a new option for adding services or increasing bandwidth.

XKL offers a strong proposition for enterprises looking to make the most of their fiber. Let's face it--companies with remote locations looking to meet growing bandwidth needs or add new services such as Fibre Channel have few options.

If distance or site characteristics make fixed wireless impossible, IT pros can build their own connections, lease additional fiber, or use DWDM products aimed at service providers. But plowing new fiber is capital-intensive and can take months. The startup price for leasing strands is lower, but recurring costs will shoot up, and it takes time to get new fiber prepped and spliced. DWDM is attractive, but most gear is aimed at service providers, with the associated hefty price tag and installation complexity. These are not do-it-yourself kits.

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XKL has developed what's essentially a DWDM appliance. Its 1U box with integrated optical service channel hides the cabling, and the fixed configuration is less expensive than a chassis and card design. Besides the expected 1-Gbps and 10-Gbps links, XKL has baked in support for OC-48 and OC-192 and for 1-Gb and 2-Gb Fibre Channel. To meet service provider-like levels of reliability, 5R-model systems provide protection switching, the ability to move traffic from one fiber pair to another in case of a service interruption. Dual hot-swappable power supplies are standard, but XKL can use a mix of AC and DC. XKL's user interface and system management scheme are also enterprise friendly: The command line interface is IOS-like, and instead of requiring the network engineer to wire an alarm panel, the unit natively supports syslog and SNMP.

XKL's products reach up to 80 kilometers out of the box, and amplification options push that to 200 kilometers. Plans are to double that distance.

Still, XKL faces challenges. Competitors, including Transmode, Adva, and Nortel, have products that scale down to enterprises, though their price points and complexity don't scale down accordingly, so far at least. More significantly, service providers own the fiber that XKL's enterprise customers will need to lease, and some will opt to hold out for the greater profits to be had providing lit circuits. To help address this situation, XKL has developed relationships with fiber-access brokers.

Return to the story:
XKL Brings New Life To Dark Fiber

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