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2012 Leading Lights Finalists: Best Product (Telecom)

Craig Matsumoto
Valley Wonk
Craig Matsumoto

11:00 AM -- It's time for us to explain our choices for Light Reading's 2012 Leading Lights finalists.

During the next nine days, Light Reading's editors will blog about the nine awards categories, discussing what made certain products, services and companies stand out. (You can see the full list of finalists here; free registration required.)

The Leading Lights Awards and Light Reading Hall of Fame winners will be revealed on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at the Manhattan Penthouse.

So, to get things started: Here are the six finalists for Best New Product (Telecom).

Adtran's Optical Networking Edge (ONE) 2.0
The edge of the network is getting more complex, and separately, packet and optical networks are intertwining. Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN)'s ONE -- not to be confused with the ONE from Cisco -- covers both trends by combining the optical transport for multiple access types. Version 2.0 pushes that concept deeper into the network, bringing Adtran into the metro.

It also brings Optical Transport Network (OTN) technology into the metro for some smaller carriers, Adtran says. They don't really need OTN for their core networks but can use it in the metro for combining TDM and Ethernet traffic.

Alcatel-Lucent's 7950 Extensible Routing System
Basil Alwan, who heads the Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) IP group, calls this core router the biggest product he's worked on since the original TiMetra router (a.k.a. AlcaLu's 7750 Service Router). The 7950 is a much bigger router with some legitimate claims of high density, including a possible 80 ports of 100Gbit/s in one rack.

It's being used in metro networks first, rather than the core, because the 7950 can serve as a dense multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) switch, an application that's attracted Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ).

The router's FP3 processor won a Leading Lights award last year, so some of its capabilities were already known. Still, the full 7950 package really wowed some of the analysts Light Reading spoke to. One handicap is a lack of customer announcements, but it's understandable considering the router only recently began shipping.

Big Switch's Floodlight
An open-source distribution of Big Switch Networks 's OpenFlow controller, Floodlight was downloaded 7,500 times between January and September -- a pretty quick pick-up. More importantly, Big Switch has been an evangelist for OpenFlow and software-defined networking (SDN). At Interop in the spring, nearly every switch/router vendor wanted to show that its gear interoperates with Big Switch.

One thing to note: Floodlight isn't the real product. You know, the commercial, sold-for-money product that would be Big Switch's actual business. That hasn't been announced yet. Still, having a free version of the controller helps spread the SDN gospel, stoking continued interest and confidence in a technology that some believe is sparking a revolution in networking.

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Pete Baldwin
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:18:44 PM
re: 2012 Leading Lights Finalists: Best Product (Telecom)

I really thought software would be a bigger deal in this category this year, but we've still got traditional big-box products that are making waves (AlcaLu, Infinera...)

Juniper entered Junosphere (the service where you can test a virtual Juniper network in the cloud), but we moved it to the Best Service category.  I really liked that one, probably the most different of all the product entries.

Nicira didn't enter, but SST would certainly have gotten consideration. Would have set up an interesting battle with Big Switch.

I do think this category's future is in software products, but the ASIC and ASSP guys are still finding ways of keeping the hardware interesting.

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