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with separate coding at each end, allowing them to be plugged into equipment from different vendors to create true interoperability. With this in mind, the company has partnered with Mellanox to create a range of products that allow Mellanox switches and network interface cards to be connected to non- Mellanox devices. ‘With our knowledge of coding, we can tell you if it is possible to combine OEM [equipment],’ said Rookes. Also on the product roadmap is ‘remote

coding’, where customers will receive a coding device that allows them to add the code to the transceivers on-site at a later stage, once they know which piece of equipment it will be connected to.

Closing the technology gap ProLabs’ roots stretch back more than a decade, when it was part of international IT distributor Zycko. Seeing untapped potential in the compatibles market, ProLabs became independent in 2013 and has embarked on an ambitious expansion plan. ‘We spent the last year investing heavily in premises, people and product line development,’ explained Rookes. One of ProLab’s first moves aſter going independent was to hire Giacomo Losio,

former lead optical design engineer at Cisco, as its head of technology. Losio helped to develop the key building blocks of Cisco’s optical modules, including the tunable XFP, MLSE 10Gb/s transponder, and 40G coherent optical module – experience he can use to guide ProLabs as the company looks to broaden its product range to include the very latest designs. Te only difficulty with the compatibles

business model can be the time it takes to bring out new products; sometimes two years can pass from when the OEM product reaches the market before the compatible supplier has a suitable replacement part. ‘Closing the technology gap means working with our partners to gain early access to technology,’ said Rookes. Te compatibles market is catching up;

product development that previously took two years can now be compressed into months. ‘Tey’re about to release a new 10G [copper] standard and I believe we’re only six months behind the market,’ said Rookes. Te company is keeping a close eye on emerging technologies like silicon photonics, next-generation 100G and 400G. ProLabs also needs to have quick reactions

when it comes to shipping orders; it aims to ship 90 per cent of transceivers out to customers within 24 hours of the order being placed. Tat’s one of the reasons that the company recently moved to a purpose-built facility in South Cerney, UK, with 8,800 square feet of warehouse space. Customers can enjoy next-day delivery, instead of waiting 6–12 weeks to receive parts from OEM suppliers. To service customers outside Europe,

ProLabs has partnered with a number of distributors. ‘When I started we had three distributor partners in the UK and one in the US. Now we are truly global, we are everywhere except Russia – and that’s a big differentiator compared to our competitors,’ Moglia asserted. Moglia is building up the company because

he is convinced that the market opportunity could be massive; aſter all, the market for optical transceivers was worth $5 billion in 2014, according to market research firm LightCounting. Already, the privately owned ProLabs is shipping around 17,000 transceivers per month, and increased its turnover to £25 million in 2015. ‘Te building blocks are in place; we are well placed to achieve those aspirations’, he concluded.l

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