Gail Leach Carvell
Two of the industry`s well-established fiber-optics suppliers announced at the recent bicsi Winter Conference that they will join forces to provide local area network (LAN) customers with a complete solution for fiber-to-the-desk (fttd) implementations. The alliance brings together structured-cabling- system manufacturer Lucent Technologies (Murray Hill, NJ) and Allied Telesyn (Bothell, WA), a supplier of fiber-based Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, and Asynchronous Transfer Mode LAN hardware.
According to Dave Stoner, Allied`s manager of market development, the partnership provides one-stop shopping for those customers looking to incorporate fttd into their horizontal-cabling structure. "The big advantage is that the components are all coming from one place," Stoner notes. "You can shop around for the best deal and hopefully those components will interoperate well. But if you can get a complete solution from one source, then you are assured of getting increased reliability and interoperability."
The announcement comes as an increasing number of people turn to fttd to meet future bandwidth needs and look to simplify their network management. A study published last year by the Business Research Group (Newton, MA) showed that by the end of 1996, fiber would constitute the primary desktop environment for one in five users.
"We are trying to look at where the industry is going," says Steven Bartolutti of Lucent. "And what people are saying is that within five to seven years there will be a major surge in fiber cabling in the horizontal. When that happens, those who are positioned well with a fiber- optic product offering are going to reap the benefits."
Now is the time to start moving in that direction, he says. "We want to be positioned along with Allied so that when [fttd] does take off, we have an offering for customers that will upsell them from their existing copper products," he says, adding that the key to selling customers now is to take an approach that targets return on investment.
According to Bob Mohalley, business management vice president for Lucent, being able to purchase the infrastructure system and the LAN hardware as a complete system will help keep costs down, giving Lucent and Allied an advantage. "The guy who provides the most bandwidth at the lowest price is going to win," he said when announcing the alliance. "Our goal is to provide total solutions to customers."
While increasing bandwidth appears to be the major reason to bring fiber to the desk, Stoner is quick to point out that it is not the only reason. "We can take advantage of fiber`s longer-distance capabilities. Freedom from the 100-meter constraints presents network designers with some exciting new alternatives," he says. "There are also a number of attractive savings here. Maintenance and support costs are reduced, equipment costs can be minimized, and overall network reliability will be dramatically improved."