Cisco is buying a packet optical transponder vendor (CoreOptics, Inc.) in what most believe is a preparatory strike into the optical transport space — a market Cisco has avoided for more than a decade. The interest of major providers in optical transport has been undeniable, and while Cisco, like other router vendors, isn’t really interested in seeing optical roll in, they realize that rolling in Cisco optical would be better than rolling in an alternative vendor’s equipment.
That’s where things seem to be heading. But a transponder isn’t an optical network product, and the deal could be aimed only at improving margins on higher-end Cisco optical cards. We think even Cisco isn’t sure at this point. The rumor we’ve heard is that they’re working on an optical product but not yet committed to releasing it.