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Optical/IP

360 Networks Takes a New Angle

Wholesale network operator 360networks Inc. is leveraging a major network upgrade to launch a new service strategy intended to dominate IP and Ethernet services in the smaller markets of the 19 Western and Midwestern states it serves. (See 360networks Completes IP Upgrade.)

For that upgrade, 360networks chose Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) as its core routing provider, over previous vendor Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) for edge routers and Ethernet switches.

360networks has an 18,000-mile fiber network and, while it serves Tier 1 markets such as Denver and Seattle, its specialty is serving Tier 2, Tier 3 and Tier 4 markets, where there aren't as many wholesale options. Until this major upgrade, 360 was selling 2.5Gbit/s and 10Gbit/s wavelengths and Sonet services, but it has now added IP transport and Layer 2 Ethernet to its offerings. (See 360networks Takes Ethernet to Layer 2.)

"We haven't been as big as we should have been in IP transport," admits Rick Coma, senior vice president of 360networks. "We knew that everything is moving all IP and in order for us to compete and win more of these bigger deals in data center, colo and cloud space, we needed to enhance our IP core."

360networks, which had been a Cisco user, chose Juniper's MX series of routers for its IP core, citing the flexibility and scalability.

"We looked at both Cisco and Juniper and we chose Juniper because they have the size, performance and price points that we were looking for," Coma says.

360networks had built out the first half of its fiber optic network using Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN) gear, but chose Alcatel-Lucent for the southern half of the build, and that led to an evaluation of AlcaLu's service routers, Coma says. 360network is now using the AlcaLu 7750 Service Routers , 7450 Ethernet Service Switches and 5620 Service Aware Manager as part of the upgrade and to enable its Layer 2 Ethernet services. (see 360networks Picks AlcaLu 100G and 360Networks Deploys AlcaLu.)

"Everything is in place, we are ready to go, launching some pretty unique products off this platform, and also going after a new market for us -- the whole data center, collocation, cloud-computing space," Coma says.

The uniqueness to which Coma refers is in the Layer 2 Ethernet service, which will not share the core IP backbone with other 360networks traffic, but is getting its own separate optical capacity in order to offer better throughput guarantees, based on less network contention.

In addition, Ethernet customers can order service based on the number of ports needed, at fixed rates, eliminating the mileage charges inherent in Sonet and wavelength offerings. That approach will make it easier for 360network customers to take advantage of connections into exchange points, such as the Equinix exchange in San Jose, to peer traffic instead of having to buy IP transit.

360networks will be making more announcements regarding connections to the exchanges, and how it plans to roll out more services targeting the colo, data center and cloud space, Coma promises. (See 360networks Deploys Fiber.)

There is growing demand in smaller markets for those services and for Ethernet, he says, and that is where 360networks will be making its mark.

"We will compete with standard big players out there with our IP, but we go into a lot of smaller markets and we hope to dominate those markets down the road and be able to be the dominant IP player in the Tier 2-3-4 markets going forward," Coma says.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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