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Sycamore teams to make networks easier to operate

A group of networking upstarts plans to unveil a new strategy tomorrow to make the growing web of fiber-optic based networks easier to operate.

A group of networking upstarts plans to unveil a strategy tomorrow to make the growing web of fiber-optic based networks easier to operate.

Spearheaded by high-flying optical equipment provider Sycamore Networks, the new initiative aspires to allow service providers to extend network connections to customers without much of the technical ?heavy lifting? that now accompanies such operations.

Those planning to join the effort include telecommunications companies such as Enron Communications, MCI WorldCom?s UUNet and Williams Communications. Equipment providers such as Ciena, Redback Networks, Germany?s Siemens and Cabletron Systems, among others, also plan to team with Sycamore.

A number of start-ups are also involved, including Pluris, Convergent Networks, Avici Systems, Ennovate Networks, and Tellium, among others.

"A lot of innovation is happening at the smaller companies,", Sycamore chairman and co-founder Desh Deshpande said. "In some ways, the younger companies need to innovate even more."

Sycamore and its partners are all reacting to the growing need for bandwidth as more people use the Internet and businesses see the benefits of expanded corporate networks. Along with this need has come the realization that technology must become increasingly sophisticated to meet the rapidly evolving demands of businesses worldwide.

The initiative, called optical domain service interconnect (ODSI), hopes to take the rigid nature of current network layouts and make them more flexible. For example, a customer could call a service provider and have network bandwidth provisioned that same day under the new program, according to Deshpande.

The program also aims to allow better communication between equipment that shuttles data across an optical network and technology--like an Internet router, for example--that makes intelligent decisions concerning where to send data.

The first meeting of the group will take place later this month. A resulting draft recommendation is expected by mid-year, according to Scott Larson, Sycamore's director of marketing for its strategic programs group.

The group then hopes to have a final standard it can demonstrate by the end of the year, executives said.

Suprisingly absent from the coalition are industry leaders Nortel Networks, Lucent Technologies, and Cisco Systems, as well as routing upstart Juniper Networks. But Deshpande said their absence was simply an organizational factor, as the group formed just three months ago.

Cisco, for one, remains "undecided at this time" whether they will join the effort, according to a company spokeswoman.