November 5, 2009
NEW YORK -- Ethernet Expo Americas 2009 -- The emergence of 100-Gbit/s Ethernet will prod NTT America Inc. to upgrade its core routers in a few years, but the company's newly appointed chief technology officer says the 100-Gbit/s options announced so far won't meet his needs.
Doug Junkins, named CTO earlier this week, told Light Reading of his concerns here at this week's conference. Previously more of a Layer 3 guy, Junkins -- who was (and still is) VP of IP engineering -- has taken the opportunity to get immersed in the world of Layer 2. (See NTT America Names CTO.)
Part of Junkins's charter as CTO will be to present a unified front to NTT America's equipment suppliers, rather than having each line of business do it separately. "Each has been going to Ethernet equipment vendors and such rather independently," he says.
NTT America is using the Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) T1600 as its core router, but Junkins says he's talking to Juniper, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and other vendors about what to do next. (See NTT America Picks Juniper.)
"With these platforms, the number of ports we're able to put in a single chassis is going to be challenged in the 2011 timeframe," Junkins says.
Like a lot of carriers, NTT America wants to use 100-Gbit/s Ethernet right away. He tells the familiar tale of customers link-aggregating groups of eight 10-Gbit/s lines and still not having enough bandwidth.
"As soon as we have 100-Gbit/s Ethernet, we'll probably be bundling it, to offer 200-Gbit/s bundles," Junkins says.
To do that, the density of the core routers will have to increase. While vendors have started talking about 100-Gbit/s ports, Junkins is going to need per-slot capacity of at least 200 Gbit/s to get those bundles done.
Core routers haven't reached that point yet. Cisco claims it will put 400 Gbit/s per slot on the ASR 9000, but it's yet to show how that will be accomplished -- and besides, the ASR isn't designed as a core router. Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. likewise says its NE40E Universal Service Router will eventually reach 400 Gbit/s per slot. (See Chipping Away at Cisco's ASR 9000 and Huawei's Doing 100-Gig, Too.)
Something similar is happening with the Cisco 6509s that NTT America uses at the network edge. "We're already running into a point where our current Ethernet aggregation platform doesn't have enough density," Junkins says.
On the plus side, Junkins says vendors' roadmaps for 100-Gbit/s Ethernet are looking encouraging. So, it sounds like he's at least being told his concerns can be addressed.
Even if he gets everything he wants on the routers, Junkins's 100-Gbit/s plans could get stalled by another factor: price.
"The prices that we're hearing for 100-Gbit/s Ethernet optics are unbelievable. As someone I work with says, you can buy a really nice Italian sports car for the cost of one optical module. We need to buy a really nice Japanese car," Junkins says.
The price ought to drop about a half year after the modules start shipping, he's guessing. "That's going to be an interesting six months, to see who's going to pay that expensive price to get a jump on the market."
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading
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