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Optical/IP

Équipe: Take the ATM Road to MPLS

Équipe Communications Corp. says carriers don't need to worry about making their networks all-IP before implementing Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS).

In a statement released today, the vendor maintains that its Équipe 3200 (É3200) platform allows carriers to take a stepped approach to giving their ATM networks and their IP ones MPLS capabilities (see Équipe Brings MPLS to Layer 2).

The vendor plans to do this by adding an interface card to its switch that lays the underpinnings needed to start a step-by-step plan for implementing MPLS with all kinds of traffic, not just IP.

Équipe says its gear will let carriers continue to build their ATM cores, using the switch to "cut over non-real time traffic to MPLS tunnels while preserving end-to-end signaling and provisioning," then migrating voice and video traffic to MPLS as well.

The É3200, presently in beta test with unnamed customers, supports ATM only. The new ATM/MPLS platform is slated for release in Q2 2002.

This announcement isn't exactly breaking news, but it puts Équipe at the forefront of a small group of switch vendors that say carriers aren't going to throw away ATM to get better quality of service (QOS) and control capabilities.

"Carriers have realized MPLS isn't just about getting rid of Layer 2," says Jim Lawrence, program director at Stratecast Partners. He says service providers -- and the vendors that seek their business -- realize that the route to MPLS can be accomplished just as easily, and in many cases more practically, by adding features to existing Layer 2 ATM networks, instead of building IP infrastructure at Layer 3 to replace them.

"There are now two approaches to MPLS: from the router down and from ATM up," he says.

Other vendors of ATM gear also are taking a stand behind this approach. Last month, Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) espoused a similar philosophy with the release of its 7670 Routing Switch Platform (see Alcatel ATM Switch Steps Up).

Until recently, it was widely held that IP was a prerequisite for MPLS. ATM switches would be replaced after a brief transition period by optical switches and routers. The process had begun, many claimed, with the Layer 3 software in routers from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Juniper Networks Inc., which provide traffic engineering and some QOS capabilities for IP data networks.

Now, in light of the current economic downturn, plans have changed. Carriers are under a mandate to roll out new IP-based services without changing their present infrastructure. Indeed, sources say carriers plan to run IP and ATM in parallel for as long as possible.

Incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs), for instance, which are widely seen as the only carriers spending money these days on equipment, have made it known they're not interested in throwing out their mainly ATM-centric facilities, even though many have already implemented Layer 3 MPLS via Cisco and Juniper.

Équipe's solution won't be a panacea. While it will eliminate the need for carriers to develop two sets of base software to run MPLS on their networks, there will nevertheless be plenty of work involved in the vendor's suggested strategy of porting traffic in a step-by-step process.

Still, Équipe believes in its vision. "ATM-based carriers today can't take advantage of MPLS's features," says David Boland, senior MPLS product manager at Équipe. "Most MPLS is done as IP-centric, over an IP architecture, which is not attractive to ATM carriers. What they need... is a next-generation ATM switch that allows them to provision packet-based MPLS services all the way to the edge."

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com
and Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com
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edgecore 12/4/2012 | 7:29:46 PM
re: Équipe: Take the ATM Road to MPLS IP/MPLS, ATM/MPLS, can anybody give me a quick compare and contrast?

Thanks

EC
_____ 12/4/2012 | 7:29:45 PM
re: Équipe: Take the ATM Road to MPLS Unisphere is primarliy going after the edge IP routing market. The Argon box was going to be a core solution but Unisphere dumped it and has since thought about rebuilding it. Guess Unisphere would have to change their "everybit IP" marketing slogan.

I am surprised LR has not had an article regarding the 8950 - every other trade rag has featured it recently. I followed the link you listed below- funny how the Cisco giant would even have a start up like Equipe on their radar screen- very un-cisco like to think they would be facing competition from a start up.

The field of marketing hype would make it look crowded but here is how I see it:

LU- TMX880 will be delayed - it's a re-birth of the Nexabit box.
ALA- The 7670 is a good edge box but until they get the multi-shelf configuration to work, it will remain an edge device and be absent from the core. They miss the window.
Equip- They are a start up so it's hard to say either way. Ball is in their court.
CSCO- The 8950 will face a few delays along the way. Kind of funny how the company which has been slamming IP down our throats is pitching its ATM solution.

I think cisco see's a golden opportunity to get those ATM clients who did not buy from cisco over to MPLS now using a cisco box/solution, which will lead to future csco IP/MPLS deployments within the network. Great strategy and I'm sure I'm not the first to figure out what csco is really up to here. I am just surprised JNPR and Unisphere are not trying to corner the market in the same way.
Route_495 12/4/2012 | 7:29:45 PM
re: Équipe: Take the ATM Road to MPLS
This market is suddenly very crowded. Surprising there was no mention of the Cisco/8950:

http://www.nwfusion.com/edge/n...

Maybe this validates the market at least and provides alot of future opportunity for feeding these giants their data meals.

Isn't Unisphere going after this market as well?
Belzebutt 12/4/2012 | 7:29:44 PM
re: Équipe: Take the ATM Road to MPLS Surprised there is no mention of NT in these MSS articles. They are, after all, #1 in this market ;)
reoptic 12/4/2012 | 7:29:44 PM
re: Équipe: Take the ATM Road to MPLS Horror of horrors, Equipe is reinventing itself with a rehash of the old Ascend/Cascade IP Navigator story of converging MPLS onto layer 2. It didn't work then and it won't work now. Doesn't scale well, doesn't support advanced IP features and protocols. Performance not that good. Here's a shocker too...when you want to build an IP network, it is good to have routing software in the core...
Route_495 12/4/2012 | 7:29:42 PM
re: Équipe: Take the ATM Road to MPLS
I followed the link you listed below- funny how the Cisco giant would even have a start up like Equipe on their radar screen- very un-cisco like to think they would be facing competition from a start up.
_______________________________

Well, the article mention Equipe (what does that mean anyway?) but not as part of a Cisco person's quote so it's not clear if it's on any radar screen or not (except for lucent's lawyers I suspect).

realdeal 12/4/2012 | 7:29:41 PM
re: Équipe: Take the ATM Road to MPLS Don't tell me you heard the rumor about LU's lawyers now doing product development because all of the engineers either left Lu or were let go. Thought I was the only one in the know.

And to respond to a previous posters message regarding NT- I agree, recent press has not included NT. I wonder why?
edgygirl2001 12/4/2012 | 7:29:40 PM
re: Équipe: Take the ATM Road to MPLS Is there any big spenders among the unnamed customers?

>The +ë3200, presently in beta test with unnamed customers, supports ATM only.
rainbowarrior 12/4/2012 | 7:29:40 PM
re: Équipe: Take the ATM Road to MPLS
Whenever I read about ATM I'm reminded of that old saying, "She may be dumb, but she sure is ugly."

Still I don't know what ever made people beleive that incumbents would write off their networks and melt all their old equipment down for copper, just because the inconoscenti of the protocol world have come to realize that their core protocol ain't pretty.

SONET and ATM may not be expanding technically, but they sure aren't going away.
_____ 12/4/2012 | 7:29:38 PM
re: Équipe: Take the ATM Road to MPLS RouteThis:

Good insight on the market. But 2 things:

1. Wavesmith is not working on a core solution. I'm sure you know this and were just using them as an example of how carriers may not want to deal with a start up.

2. My friends at ALA tell me they are far from getting their 7670 to serve as a core platform. They are going to focus on the edge for now.

So does this mean Marconi will have the market in the core atm-2-mpls? And will we see cut throat competition on the edge from companies like NT, LU, ALA, Wavesmith and Gotham in this space? - seems like all 5 are going after the same edge market.
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