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Optical/IP

Caspian Scores in Korea

With a contract win in Korea, Caspian Networks Inc. is hoping to rekindle its cachet as a core-router player.

The company tells Light Reading it beat Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) to deploy part of a new network for South Korea's eGovernment initiative, a bid awarded by Korea's Ministry of Information and Communications. "We won the first stage of that rollout," says Brad Wurtz, Caspian's CEO.

Juniper officials declined comment; Cisco did not return a call for comment.

The win was presaged when Korea's Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) picked Caspian to help devise router strategies for the next wave of Korea's network buildouts (see Caspian Lands Korean Gig). Having wired most of the country with broadband, Korea is now looking at ways to enhance the network to deliver advanced services, Wurtz says.

The eGovernment network is one such project. Caspian isn't disclosing the contract size, but Wurtz says it's a "one- to two-year project" worth "certainly in the millions of dollars." A larger contract is yet to be awarded -- the Broadband Communications Network (BcN), a metro and core network to augment Korea's broadband buildout, Wurtz says.

Caspian's win hinges on its flow-based routing, which keeps track of all the packets in a particular traffic flow rather than treating each packet separately. Korea's next wave of network buildouts will focus on real-time applications -- videoconferencing and distance learning, in the case of the eGovernment network -- and Caspian claims its technology provides unmatched levels of quality of service (QOS) in those cases.

For a company that Wurtz admits has experienced its "ups and downs," the Korean business is a nice "up." Caspian aimed for the core router space initially but had to back down in the face of insurmountable competition from Cisco and Juniper. The company hasn't changed its product offerings, but it's put more emphasis on flow-based routing lately.

The hope for Caspian is that other service providers see Korea as a model. "They're dealing with problems no one else is facing," including high-bandwidth, real-time applications, Wurtz says. "They have the broadband connection to the house, but behind that, they don't have the network connections to support quality of service."

Caspian's chances at the core router market outside Asia might be questionable, though.

"I don't think they're going to play in the core, and the functionality they're going after is more an edge functionality," says Mark Seery, an analyst with RHK Inc. To that end, Caspian this week released the A50, a pint-sized version of its A120 flagship router (see Caspian Unveils A50 Router).

Caspian's handicap in core routing is that the company initially didn't focus on Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), Seery says. MPLS has become paramount to many next-generation buildouts, as large carriers intend to use the technology to carry all types of traffic across an Internet Protocol (IP) network core. BT Group plc's (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) 21CN project is one example of this principle.

But MPLS isn't as big a deal in Asia, where many networks are being built from scratch, without the legacy networks and disparate traffic types being juggled by North American and European carriers. In this venue, a lack of MPLS doesn't hurt as much, Seery says.

Caspian has since added MPLS to its offerings, but that's probably not enough to put a serious dent in the market dominance enjoyed by Cisco and Juniper. Even if it was, Caspian would face competition from several fronts. Avici Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: AVCI; Frankfurt: BVC7) and Chiaro Networks Inc. continue to market large core routers. Alcatel's (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) 7750 SR-12, frequently pitched as a multiservice edge router, is suitable for some core deployments. And Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. recently joined the game (see Huawei Goes Hard Core and Foundry Strikes at the Core).

Caspian, meanwhile, has used the flow-based routing concept to get into other corners of the market. At the behest of one large European carrier, for example, Caspian honed its router's ability to identify peer-to-peer traffic (see Caspian Adds P2P Punch). In the U.S., this could help Caspian get into the cable market, where the asymmetric networks are "inherently more vulnerable to the symmetric nature of P2P traffic," Wurtz says.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading




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ironccie 12/5/2012 | 3:20:24 AM
re: Caspian Scores in Korea Anything more than 4 ports of GbE...

IronCCIE
dadofamunky 12/5/2012 | 3:20:23 AM
re: Caspian Scores in Korea 4 10-GigE's isn't a lot of media diversity, but as they said, Asian countries don't have a lot of the same infrastructure considerations as western countries. It's like a "greenfield" deployment for newer network systems. Doubt it would fly anywhere else, but still a nice win in a climate where every win counts.
ironccie 12/5/2012 | 3:20:20 AM
re: Caspian Scores in Korea Dadofamunky,

They don't have 10G. They only have GbE.

IronCCIE
Koreaipguy 12/5/2012 | 3:20:19 AM
re: Caspian Scores in Korea One of the main mandatory requirements in Asia and Korea is MPLS.
All leading Korean carriers will deploy only MPLS and IPv6 capable routers.

To get the ETRI deal they probably had to open source code, hence Cisco and Juniper "loss".
maxng 12/5/2012 | 3:20:13 AM
re: Caspian Scores in Korea While the flow-based architecture is indeed good classify packets into flow and then treat it with the relevant QoS, but it has a serious scaling problems.

I generally like the flow-based architecture, where you can have very detailed statistics, and they have very flexible and granular QoS mechanism, but issue of maintaining a high and large level of flows is very CPU and memory intensive. Every packets that comes into the router need to be register by the central CPU. Given this, in a Core router position, it will need to handle thousands if not million different packets coming from various edge. The first hit will be Central CPU that needs to register so many flows. So the question of flows per second, memory size, hashing tables etc comes into play.

I really wonder how Caspian overcome or scale this? You really cannot distribute the flow register and rate into the linecards.

Max
AAL5 12/5/2012 | 3:20:13 AM
re: Caspian Scores in Korea maxng said " Every packets that comes into the router need to be register by the central CPU."

- I am not familar with the details of how Caspian are maintaning their flows but to be able to scale I would doubt a 'CPU' is involved, in maintaining the flow list. You would want to use some dedicated hardware to do this, probably some functionality incorporated into the Network Processor.

AAL5
turing 12/5/2012 | 3:20:11 AM
re: Caspian Scores in Korea dont need to do that. A NP or FPGA or ASIC can do it. The question is why bother.
as i recall, ipsilon had flow-based routing (using a tag switching precurser to MPLS, bought by Nokia).
both mpls and ipv6 offer flow-based routing. whoopie. (weird that caspian doesn't actually have mpls - makes it a tough sell)

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Every packets that comes into the router need to be register by the central CPU.
networkprofessor 12/5/2012 | 3:20:10 AM
re: Caspian Scores in Korea More importantly memory and access to it becomes an issue. From the edge assuming 20 flows average per user a flow based router could easily see 10 million active flows. With P2P an end machine can easily launch as many as 5000 UDP sessions with 200 active TCP sessions. This doesn't even consider port scans which can easily consume tens of thousands of flow entries per host at up to 20 flows per second.
turing 12/5/2012 | 3:20:08 AM
re: Caspian Scores in Korea Are the caspian flows really down to the ip src/dst + port src/dst level? that is nuts. what value does it bring? who can manage that many flows really, at a OAM level? (and what would they manage at that level?)


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More importantly memory and access to it becomes an issue. From the edge assuming 20 flows average per user a flow based router could easily see 10 million active flows. With P2P an end machine can easily launch as many as 5000 UDP sessions with 200 active TCP sessions. This doesn't even consider port scans which can easily consume tens of thousands of flow entries per host at up to 20 flows per second.
dadofamunky 12/5/2012 | 3:20:06 AM
re: Caspian Scores in Korea
Wrong! Didja bother reading their website?

If you want to correct me next time make sure you're right first.

D
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Dadofamunky,

They don't have 10G. They only have GbE.
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