Ciena Thinks Beyond PBB-TE

Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) has a trio of new Ethernet boxes coming out today, but what might be more significant is the addition of Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) to its Ethernet aggregation switch.

The CN 5305 already supports Provider Backbone Bridging - Traffic Engineering (PBB-TE), and Ciena is now adding MPLS and hierarchical VPLS (H-VPLS) as well. This gives carriers more options when it comes to encapsulating traffic before sending it deeper into the network.

This isn't Ciena's only foray into MPLS. The LE-311v, which arrived with the acquisition of World Wide Packets, also supports the technology. (See Did Ciena Overpay for WWP?, PBT Key to Ciena Acquisition, MPLS Arrives in Access Nets, and Gary Smith, CEO, Ciena.) Ciena will be adding MPLS to other products later in the year, says Dave Parks, a Ciena director of product marketing.

Ciena has been a big backer of PBB-TE -- or Provider Backbone Transport (PBT), as it was initially called -- although the company didn't expect the technology to make inroads into the network core. (See PBT Key to Ciena Acquisition.)

Parks says Ciena's sudden interest in MPLS shouldn't be taken as a loss of faith in PBB-TE. (See PBT Sidelined at BT and PBT: Alive 'n' Kicking.)

"We still see a lot of interest in using PBB-TE, especially in wireless backhaul," and especially for 4G, he says.

PBB-TE could be useful for business services, too, "but I don't think that's as far along a market," Parks says. "There's going to be long-term demand for that, but there's going to be long-term demand for these other encapsulation methods as well."

But why hadn't Ciena put effort into MPLS support before?

"No specific reason, other than there wasn't a lot of demand for it before on this platform," Parks says of the CN 5305. He says Ciena is getting more requests to stretch MPLS into the access network, now that carriers have established MPLS in the core. "They can make better use of those router ports" that sit deeper in the network, he says. "A router port costs more than a Carrier Ethernet switch port."

PBB-TE was first championed by Nortel Networks Ltd. , which found a supporter in BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA). But the technology lost favor with BT's latest management last year, and Nortel, while still a proponent of PBB-TE, has dropped out of the carrier Ethernet market.

Separately, Ciena is adding three more systems to its Ethernet access line.

The CN 3960 is a customer premises box, one rack-unit high, meant for delivering 10-Gbit/s Ethernet services -- or, at least, services exceeding 1 Gbit/s. The box includes two 10-Gbit/s user interface ports and eight ports that can carry 100 Mbit/s or 1 Gbit/s traffic.

"It's not huge right now," Parks says of the 10-Gbit/s Ethernet services market. Ciena is hoping that will change if a lower-cost 10-Gbit/s box is available; the primary alternative has been to buy an aggregation box, which is more expensive than your typical customer premises gear.

Because some customers won't want full-blown 10-Gbit/s Ethernet, Ciena is also launching the CN 3940, a customer premises box for providing multiple Gigabit Ethernet services. It's got 20 user-side ports that can carry up to 1 Gbit/s and four Gigabit Ethernet interfaces pointing back into the network.

A third new box is the CN 5140, which is the same as the CN 3940 but built for outdoor environments.

All three of the new systems are shipping today.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

standardsguy 12/5/2012 | 4:06:41 PM
re: Ciena Thinks Beyond PBB-TE What happened to this MPLS based box aquired from wavesmith. This has been thru many MPLS interop forums and seemed to have a very mature MPLS stack. Did they port this over to the world wide packet stuff?
t.bogataj 12/5/2012 | 4:06:40 PM
re: Ciena Thinks Beyond PBB-TE

Quote, question: "But why hadn't Ciena put effort into MPLS support before?"

Quote, answer: "We still see a lot of interest in using PBB-TE, especially in wireless backhaul and 4G."

Doesn't take much brains to see that there is not enough interest for PBB-TE in the carrier Ethernet market -- and all that remains for PBB-TE is wireless???

So Ciena puts MPLS in their box to be on the safe side.

It is easy to be a believer, as long as you have an alternative scenario.



ether_dud 12/5/2012 | 4:06:39 PM
re: Ciena Thinks Beyond PBB-TE

they have declared end of life for DN 5060.

probly, they ported the DN 5060 stuff to wwp boxes.

i think there next packet and tdm platform will also use to same code.

torivar 12/5/2012 | 4:06:39 PM
re: Ciena Thinks Beyond PBB-TE

The 5060 was re-branded from Traverse I believe, they do not have a need for it any longer.  The MPLS support was already in the WWP gear (LE-311v) that Ciena acquired, they just implemented it on the larger WWP aggregation box.    It is interesting to note you can't use both PBB-TE and MPLS on the boxes at the same time, it's an either/or configuration.

I don't think they have a path to TDM on those WWP boxes, they have some other re-branded boxes they hang off the end of the carrier ethernet boxes.

viewaskew 12/5/2012 | 4:06:35 PM
re: Ciena Thinks Beyond PBB-TE

T’s views above are myopic.

MPLS and PBB-TE appeal to separate markets.  MPLS is perfectly applied to a service provider’s service plane dealing with IP traffic in the Carrier Ethernet Switch Router market.  PBB-TE (and MPLS-TP for that matter) is focused on delivery of a transport resource layer to replace SONET & SDH in the Packet Optical Transport Market.  Direct comparisons are not relevant.

Using this thinking, Ciena is attempting to address two separate market segments, driven by differing requirements, and thus broaden the applicability for its product portfolios.  As a previous commenter highlighted, Ciena has a longer history with MPLS than the article indicates.  Therefore, drawing any conclusions from this action regarding the broader appeal PBB-TE demonstrates a lack of understanding and is frankly ridiculous

hwboys123 12/5/2012 | 4:06:20 PM
re: Ciena Thinks Beyond PBB-TE When a company can't create then they must relabel. The 5060 is the old DN7100 renamed. A very complete MPLS platform that had lots of mileage as an LSR and a LER. The WWP product is MPLS light and has never interoperated with another vendors equipment. Like many of the best things, if a company does not understand, then just discontinue. This product was one of the most advanced products the company had, but instead simply flushed it down the crapper. A significant waste of talent and knowledge
old and grizzled 12/5/2012 | 4:03:22 PM
re: Ciena Thinks Beyond PBB-TE Ciena/WWP took their MPLS stack to CEWC for interoperability testing in both 2007 and 2008.

The products have a long history of interoperability, with Alcatel, Cisco, Juniper, Tellabs 8800 and Huawei all tested.

The stack on the CN5305 is an extended port of the software from the LE-311v. The CN5305 can run MPLS and PBB-TE at the same time, on the same port if required. It's only the small (pizza) boxes that are restricted to either PBB-TE or MPLS (due to system resources).
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