On the Radar: Elenion Technologies develops optical engines and interconnect solutions

In brief

For equipment and component companies to stay competitive during this expansion of the optical network, a reduction in the cost, size, and power of optical networking equipment is required. One way to accomplish this is through the integration of optical components and electrical components. However, unlike in the semiconductor industry, few companies have the library of technologies and expertise to accomplish this. For these companies, Elenion Technologies, a start-up funded by Marlin Equity Partners, provides optical engines and design services based on its optical engine platform to handle this integration.

Ovum view

  •   Thecompany,whichhadbeeninstealthmodesinceMarlinEquityPartnerspurchaseditin 2014, has been built around multidisciplinary experts in silicon photonics, lasers, RFICs, control systems, and advanced wafer-scale packaging.

  •   Thecompanyisdevelopingnext-generationphotonicintegratedcircuittechnologiesand solutions for a broad range of datacom and telecom applications.

  •   ElenionTechnologieshasdevelopedcapabilitytorapidlybuildverycomplexintegratedopto- electronic chips and package them inexpensively.

  •   ThecompanyhasaninitialcustomerinCoriantandisworkingwithotherpotentialpartners.

  •   Thecompanyhasastrongmanagementteam,investmentpartner,andfirstcustomer,butis

    also a start-up that needs to scale up and react to a fast-changing market.

 

Recommendations

Why put Elenion Technologies on your radar?

The decreasing cost, power, and size of optical transceivers will require companies that are not integrating devices to start or risk losing market share. If companies do not have the skillset in-house, they will be required to partner with companies that not only can integrate photonic components but also can integrate photonic and RF components together. Companies that have a platform, service, and a library of technologies to build upon as data rates, baud rates, and modulation formats advance have the potential to thrive in this market. Elenion Technologies is one such company and it also has the backing of a large private equity investment firm.

Evaluation

Background

Elenion started two and a half years ago after Marlin Partners purchased Silicon Lightwave Services (SLS). During its time in stealth mode, Elenion developed an optical engine platform, integrating photonic technologies with the surrounding electronic devices. The platform that is being developed consists of libraries of silicon, InP, and RF technologies, with the goal of quick integration and packaging these technologies together inexpensively. The company is positioning itself to provide optical engines and design services – using its platform – for the next generation of integration for the data center and telecom markets. This approach can serve to satisfy a need in the industry for companies that do not have the skillset in-house but want to continue to offer products.

Business model and commercial strategy

Marlin Partners purchased Coriant back in 2013 and added Elenion in 2014. Elenion has been producing products for Coriant's telecom market and will release details of its first product before OFC 2017. For the datacom market, flexibility and rapid development of products is required to fit within the 3–4-year product lifecycle. By developing a platform that can be quickly reengineered to accommodate changing data rates, baud rates, and/or modulation formats, Elenion is setting itself up to provide customers with products that could meet the requirements of a rapidly changing market.

As with most start-ups, the company will face challenges. Due to rapidly changing market demands, the company will not only need to engineer solutions for its customers, but also to research and develop new technologies to stay ahead of its competition and market demands. This will require resources such as funding and staffing to not only engineer for existing customers but also to perform research on future technologies to keep pace with the changing environment. Furthermore, the company will be reliant upon its customers' ability to sell products, putting the growth of the company in the hands of its customers, in terms of their ability to identify the growth areas in the market, define the requirements, and sell products. This sounds not unlike the challenges faced by any other component manufacturer, but for a company providing solutions that need a higher degree of integration into a final product, such as Elenion Technologies, the challenge is greater.

Appendix

On the Radar

Ovum's "On the Radar" series highlights up-and-coming companies bringing potentially disruptive ideas, products, or business models to their markets. "On the Radar" companies bear watching for their potential impact on the market for the current or future services of telcos and their suppliers.

Further reading

Total OC Forecast Spreadsheet: 2015–21, TE0017-000079 (November 2016)

40G, 100G, and 200G OC Forecast Spreadsheet: 2015–21, TE0017-000080 (November 2016)

Market Share Spreadsheet & Analysis: 3Q16 Optical Components, TE0017-000081 (December 2016)

DCI is reshaping optical networks and fueling component demand, TE0017-000073 (September 2016)

Author

Kevin Lefebvre, Principal Analyst, Components, Transport and Routing

kevin.lefebvre@ovum.com

Ovum Consulting

We hope that this analysis will help you make informed and imaginative business decisions. If you have further requirements, Ovum’s consulting team may be able to help you. For more information about Ovum’s consulting capabilities, please contact us directly at consulting@ovum.com.

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