Wednesday, July 25, 2001

TeraConnect expands throughput, lessens data bottleneck

Published in Interface Tech News

NASHUA, N.H. ‹ TeraConnect hopes major data-transmission companies will breathe a little easier with the introduction of its new T-48 fiber optic interconnection device, which permits data transfer at rates up to 120 gigabits per second.

Intended for use in high-capacity routing and switching systems, and high-end servers that contain routing and switching hardware, the T-48 is a two-dimensional array converting fiber optic signals to electrical signals used in computer equipment.

In large setups, multiple pieces of equipment are placed in rack systems and connected with high-bandwidth fiber optic cables. The machines can work only as fast as they can transfer data to each other.

"There is a bottleneck in trying to interconnect the machines themselves," said Bill Lindsay, TeraConnect's director of product marketing. Lindsay said the T-48 does the work of four standard 1x12 fiber arrays in half the space on a circuit board, and with less power consumption.

Maribel Dolinov, senior telecom analyst for Forrester Research in Boston, said the product is desirable for companies like Cisco and Nortel, which are among TeraConnect's potential customers.

"One of the things the systems providers are looking for is people to assemble (component groups) and then sell them," Dolinov said.

That is exactly what TeraConnect says it is doing.

"The traditional optical communication systems were built one link at a time," Lindsay said. The T-48 offers four dozen links in one component.

Dolinov said cost, size, and power consumption are all large factors in manufacturers' purchases of optical-electrical conversion equipment, and said TeraConnect's offering may solve some problems in those areas.

TeraConnect, which spun out of BAE Systems in November 2000, has been working on this project for over a year, taking advantage of its continued access to BAE Systems clean rooms and engineering equipment.

"That's a big competitive advantage for us," Lindsay said.

The company is pursuing deals with major market players. While reluctant to name specific potential customers, Lindsay said the company is targeting four major markets: routers, switches, high-performance servers, and storage.

In the context of those markets he talked about possibly approaching companies like Cisco, Nortel, Sun, and EMC. He said TeraConnect is also eyeing major telecom service providers and metro-area operators.

Lindsay said the company is involved in smaller deals now, as prospective clients purchase a few T-48s for testing with their products. He said he anticipates sales to increase as the test results come back.

Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Bottomline patents payment messaging system

Published in Interface Tech News

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. ‹ Moving to protect its electronic invoicing and payment software for businesses, Bottomline Technologies received a patent in late June for its e-payment notification system. The system, called ERADS (electronic remittance advice delivery system), is already distributed as part of Bottomline's PayBase payment-automation software.

Bottomline chairman and CEO Dan McGurl said ERADS makes it easier for both parties to know what transactions have occurred.

"When you make an electronic payment," McGurl said, "there are certain limitations that do not allow organizations to send all the remittance information with the payment. (ERADS) is a real-world technology that enables organizations to work around the limitations."

Bottomline still has about 20 patents pending, McGurl said, all of which are for aspects of the company's e-payment and e-invoicing products. The protection offered by a patent improves what McGurl said is the company's already-strong position in the marketplace.

Bottomline's major initiative of late has been moving from a client-server style system to a Web browser-based implementation, a project McGurl is pleased with."We have substantially strengthened our product line with this Web-based (system)," he said.

Harry Wollhandler, vice president of research at Peterborough, N.H.-based ActivMedia Research, agreed. "The systems they've developed meet the criteria of the marketplace rather well," Wollhandler said.

The issue now for Bottomline, Wollhandler said, is to see how the market standards develop. If Bottomline's products can work with most companies' accounting systems, Wollhandler expects them to do well.

"The issue is critical mass. Can you get enough partners involved?" he added.

Bottomline is making an effort, according to McGurl said. FleetBoston, Citibank, and UPS all use Bottomline products and resell them to their customers.

The opportunity is real, Wollhandler said, for systems like Bottomline's to really take off. "Bill presentment is hard for banks," he said. "In terms of corporate business, (systems like ERADS) start to bypass the credit card, saving 2.3 percent on every transaction."

Wollhandler said Bottomline, which will announce its annual financial report in the first week of August, is moving in the right direction.

"Too many companies have gone after investors at the expense of going after customers. The strategy they seem to be putting into place is going after customers and letting investors take care of themselves," Wollhandler said.