I’ve “officially” installed my first Cisco ONS M6 shelf on this trip. (I’ve had experience in the lab but haven’t been on the previous installs where we did M6 installation.) This is Cisco’s new 6 RU, slimmed down version of their flagship ONS product, the 15454 (a.k.a. the M12). It features some integrated features for chaining multiple shelves together into one unit for management purposes. It also makes the single-module ROADM (SMR) cards shine. With one 6 RU shelf you can provide 4-degrees of ROADM functionality. The SMR cards combine amplification and ROADM functionality into a single-slot card. Previously these functions would take at least 3 to 5 slots. This allows the M6 chassis to save our customers on rack space, cooling, and power consumption.
The install was pretty involved. The M6 lacks the fiber management of the M12 and we had to be creative. The fiber routing was pretty cumbersome. I would recommend to always purchase a fiber storage tray(or other fiber management options) with any M6 purchase. It will save on headaches and will make the install look cleaner.
Another thing that is different with the M6 as compared to the M12 is how the OSC (optical service channel) is setup. On the M12 we would use the OSCM or OSC-CSM card. However, the M6 has a card called the TNC that combines the features of the TCC card and the OSCM card into one single-slot module. (Saving space again.) The TNC card has 2 SFP slots for adding in OC3 optics (CWDM 1510nm) and there are 2 TNC cards (A & B) installed in the M6. This gives the M6 a total of 4 OSCs for the 4-degrees it supports. You have to physically install the OC3 SFP modules in the TNC cards, create the pluggable port modules, and then create the OSC channel.
To me the M6 chassis is a good step forward in providing smaller form factor ONS products. Although the M12 will probably continue to reign supreme, the M6 is a great alternative and most likely the platform of the future for Cisco’s DWDM product.