Optical/IP Networks

Alcatel Stars in Multiservice Switch Test

Light Reading today published the results of its test of next-generation multiservice switches, turning up the heat under vendors who've yet to prove that their equipment can deliver the goods when handling IP and MPLS as well as ATM.

Only one vendor -- Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) -- accepted Light Reading's invitation to participate in the tests. Its 7670 Routing Switch Platform (RSP) did exceptionally well.

It turned in really stunning ATM performance, getting a total of 38 out of 40 possible points in a scoring system that gives the results of each test a star rating on a scale of 1 to 5. (See the Multiservice Switch Test for the results in full.)

Alcatel also did well -- although not as well -- in a series of tests that assessed the 7670 RSP's MPLS and native IP performance. It garnered a total of 35 out of 50 possible points, giving it an overall rating between "good" and "very good."

Alcatel's lowest score -- 2 stars -- was for a test of 7670's MPLS tunnel reroute performance. It took up to 8.9 seconds to reroute 1,000 paths. Alcatel expects to improve this radically by implementing fast rerouting (see MPLS Vendors Demo Fast Reroute).

These tests deserve special recognition on at least three counts. First, they are genuinely independent. Light Reading paid for them, not Alcatel.

Second, they were conducted for Light Reading by European Advanced Networking Test Center AG (EANTC), which has a world-class reputation for conducting ATM and MPLS tests.

Finally, the tests themselves were very thorough. There were 17 tests in all, and the test plan was the result of a lot of consultation -- not just with Alcatel and Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A), which provided the test equipment, but with many other potential test participants.

These included Marconi plc (Nasdaq/London: MONI), which initially committed to participating in the tests and encouraged us to emphasize ATM and pay less attention to MPLS. In the end, Marconi pulled out and paid the Tolly Group to test its switch, focusing heavily on its ATM performance (see Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied).

More than 15 other vendors were invited to participate in Light Reading's test, and declined or didn't reply. There were plenty of excuses, but the fact remains that only Alcatel has proved its switch works in an independent test. The rest haven't.

— Peter Heywood, Founding Editor, Light Reading
www.lightreading.com Want to know more? The big cheeses of the optical networking industry will be discussing multiservice switches at Lightspeed Europe. Check it out at Lightspeed Europe 02.

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