In recent months Cisco Systems has been talking about its upcoming proprietary 100G optical module, dubbed CPAK. The development is expected to reduce the market opportunity for the CFP2 multi-source agreement (MSA) and has caused disquiet in the industry.
“The CFP2 has been a bit slow – the MSA has taken longer than people expected – so Cisco announcing CPAK has frightened a few people,” said Paul Brooks, director for JDSU‘s high speed transport test portfolio.
The CPAK module, smaller than the CFP2 MSA and three quarters its volume, has not been officially released and Cisco will not comment on the design, but the CPAK has been detailed in the company’s presentations.
The CPAK is the first example of Cisco’s module design capability following its acquisition of silicon photonics player Lightwire. In addition, Cisco previously acquired CoreOptics, a developer of digital signal processing for high-speed optical transponders in 2010. The development of the module highlights how the acquisition of core technology can give an equipment maker the ability to develop proprietary interfaces that promise costs savings and differentiation.
The development also raises a question mark regarding the CFP2 and the merit of MSAs when a potential leading customer of the CFP2 chooses to use its own design. But industry analysts do not believe it undermines the CFP2 MSA market.
“I believe there is business for the CFP2,” said Daryl Inniss, practice leader, Ovum Components. “Cisco is shooting for a solution that has some staying power. The CFP2 is too large and the power consumption too high while the CFP4 is too small and will take too long to get to market; CPAK is a great compromise.”
Vladimir Kozlov, CEO of market research firm, LightCounting, is not surprised by the development. “Cisco could use more proprietary parts and technologies to compete with Huawei over the next decade,” he said. “From a transceiver vendor perspective, custom-made products are often more profitable than standard ones; unless Cisco will make everything in house, which is unlikely, it is not bad news.”
By Roy Rubenstein
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