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Ethernet equipment

BT Pressures Vendors Over PBT

BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) wants its key 21CN vendor partners to support PBT (Provider Backbone Transport), the controversial Ethernet technology it's deploying in its next-generation network, and is prepared to offer its most reluctant suppliers a better financial deal to do so. (See PBT: New Kid on the Metro Block and PBT Gathers Support.)

That's one of the messages that came from a 21CN briefing this week when senior BT executives gave an update on its NGN progress. (See BT Aims to Finish 21CN in Late 2011.)

"We have a contractual requirement for our suppliers to support [PBT]," Matt Beal, 21CN's program director and the CTO of BT Wholesale, told journalists at a briefing in London.

And there's a view among some 21CN suppliers that supporting PBT is a no-brainer. Tom Mock, senior VP of strategic planning at 21CN optical transport equipment supplier Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN), put it nicely when he met Light Reading in London this week. When asked if PBT is on Ciena's technology roadmap, he said: "Absolutely! It has to be if you're a BT supplier."

BT's position is likely to be causing some soul-searching amongst the three 21CN vendors that are supplying multiservice platforms for BT's metro nodes, the regional centers of the carrier's NGN. Two of those vendors, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), have already made it clear they're not too keen on PBT. The third, Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), has yet to state its position on PBT, and had not responded to requests for a PBT positioning statement as this article was published.

Why are they not so keen? Because PBT, rightly or wrongly, is being pitched against an alternative technology from the MPLS world, called Transport MPLS, or T-MPLS. And all three 21CN metro vendors are major MPLS supporters.

In September 2006 at the Carrier Ethernet World Congress in Madrid, just when BT was making it clear PBT was going to be part of its 21CN strategy, Alcatel took the opportunity in a keynote address to pitch the benefits of T-MPLS as the best technology to support managed Ethernet transport. (See BT Rethinks 21CN Core Strategy.)

Cisco, meanwhile, says it's technology agnostic, yet has developed a marketing pitch that highlights multiple scenarios where PBT cannot be used, and claims that carriers aren't interested in the technology. (See Huawei Joins PBT Fan Club.)

But none of PBT's supporters are claiming the approach is the answer to a multitude of Ethernet service challenges that carriers face: "It only solves a small domain. It's not a silver bullet," says Matt Beal, 21CN's program director and the CTO of BT Wholesale.

That small domain is enough, though, for BT to have already awarded deals to Nortel Networks Ltd. and Nokia Networks (formerly Siemens Communications) to supply PBT equipment for 21CN, even though the technology is only at the beginning of the standards process. (See Nortel, Siemens Win PBT Deals at BT and Nortel on PBT: Today BT, Tomorrow the World!)

But Beal is confident he can get the metro node vendors to support BT's needs. When asked about the current position of the 21CN metro node equipment suppliers and their support for PBT, Beal noted that it "would be better if they do, though there are ways around the situation if they don't." But if they do support PBT, "it would give them a better profit margin -- that's the sort of conversation we're having with them at the moment," added the BT man.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading


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chechaco 12/5/2012 | 3:10:26 PM
re: BT Pressures Vendors Over PBT It is strange that LR tries to explain visible absence of these companies among early supporters of PBT by existence of T-MPLS. Does it imply that all or some of these companies are promoting T-MPLS? Even though T-MPLS has nothing new if compared with combination of specific modes of 802.1ah, MPLS label distribution and PWE3.
torivar 12/5/2012 | 3:10:25 PM
re: BT Pressures Vendors Over PBT Alcatel has no current products that support T-MPLS, afaik, but they are pushing T-MPLS in the ITU and are its biggest proponent. Their business in the US for Ethernet delivery is around the 7750/7450 platform and using PWE3-based VPLS and Ethernet private line. Which can be done on their gear using an MPLS core or GRE tunneling.

At this point, there is a large installed base of MPLS based Ethernet services and large carriers doing Ethernet transport using MPLS, like Verizon, ATT, Level3, etc and they are using Alcatel, Cisco, and Juniper gear. They already have the MPLS networks. Alcatel and Cisco already make Metro devices that support MPLS...

I don't think PBT has the same appeal to choose it over MPLS that going to MPLS from ATM/Frame networks did. That's why they aren't on board.
sgan201 12/5/2012 | 3:10:24 PM
re: BT Pressures Vendors Over PBT << 1. Yes, if you mean optimized multicast in VPLS. But PBT/PBB-TE does not address these issues.
2. PBT as of now defined for point-to-point services EPL and EVPL. It's only advantage when used over Eth PHY.
3. One can PCE to offload path computation from switches onto route servers. Besides, PBT is exploring GMPLS for signaling.>>

1) No. I do not mean multicast.

2) point-to-point EPL and EVPL is what I refer to.

3) Even with G-MPLS, the signaling is sent to the OSS system. It is not process by the network element.

<<one can="" computation="" from="" offload="" onto="" path="" pce="" route="" servers.="" switches="" to="">>

Yes. But, why do that to begin with?? With PBT, the path routing is done on OSS to begin with.

Dreamer

</one>
sgan201 12/5/2012 | 3:10:24 PM
re: BT Pressures Vendors Over PBT 1) MPLS and VPLS have issues in providing Ethernet services.

2) PBT may solve some particular Ethernet service problems in a simplistic fashion.

3) There is a philosophical battle here too. Where should the intelligence of network resides?? Under PBT like model, it is in the OSS system. For T-MPLS and MPLS, it is in the network device.

Intelligence = $$$$. So, is the most of $$$ going to be spent on OSS or network devices?

Dreamer
gigeguy 12/5/2012 | 3:10:24 PM
re: BT Pressures Vendors Over PBT It's still a mystery why BT is so willing to bet the farm on new and untested technology. Other carriers are happy to sit and watch to see if BT succeeds or falls flat on its face. Meanwhile, they can use tried and tested MPLS & VPLS for their Ethernet services.
chechaco 12/5/2012 | 3:10:24 PM
re: BT Pressures Vendors Over PBT 1.If you only need static p2p tunnel then PBT might fit the bill. But, once again, I would point that as of now PBT addresses only part of scenarios addressed by MPLS-based technologies. And I believe that if PBT to be expanded to p2mp, mp2mp tunnels and provide path or segment protection it would not be much simpler then GMPLS/MPLS.
2.OSS would not compute routes for PBT it can include an application that does CSPF to do that. PCE only defines control protocol between Path Computation Element (PCE) and Path Computation Client (PCC)or another PCE. Thus OSS can use its own.
chechaco 12/5/2012 | 3:10:24 PM
re: BT Pressures Vendors Over PBT Dreamer wrote:
"1) MPLS and VPLS have issues in providing Ethernet services.

2) PBT may solve some particular Ethernet service problems in a simplistic fashion.

3) There is a philosophical battle here too. Where should the intelligence of network resides?? Under PBT like model, it is in the OSS system. For T-MPLS and MPLS, it is in the network device."

1. Yes, if you mean optimized multicast in VPLS. But PBT/PBB-TE does not address these issues.
2. PBT as of now defined for point-to-point services EPL and EVPL. It's only advantage when used over Eth PHY.
3. One can PCE to offload path computation from switches onto route servers. Besides, PBT is exploring GMPLS for signaling.
metroether 12/5/2012 | 3:10:23 PM
re: BT Pressures Vendors Over PBT
>>2. PBT as of now defined for point-to-point services EPL and EVPL. It's only advantage when used over Eth PHY.


PBT doesn't really have any advantage, even over an Ethernet PHY. Both protocols (MPLS, PBT) use a shim consisting of a MAC header and a demultiplexing field. Whether you call it a tag or a label is pretty immaterial.

If someone wants to put the provisioning aspects into an OSS, it can be done equally with either. There's not really anything that can be done with PBT that cant be done with MPLS, so all one can argue is cost. And its not that MPLS can't be made cheaper, its that carriers demand high-performing, resilient, and reliable implementations with many features.

BT is off in the weeds.
sgan201 12/5/2012 | 3:10:23 PM
re: BT Pressures Vendors Over PBT 1) Yes. PBT does not address p2mp or mp2mp. But, does it has to? I do not think so.

2) And, that application that do CSPF can be running on a pair of centralized computers. Centralized approach. Not distributed.

Dreamer
pschurr 12/5/2012 | 3:10:22 PM
re: BT Pressures Vendors Over PBT Are we ignoring the age-old arbiter in religous wars? Money. The 'incumbents' don't want to spend a lot of development cash to develop something they don't have, and the PBT guys want to differentiate themselves from the incumbents. It isn't a 'this is better than that' issue.

I'd bet that BT is hell-bent on PBT because it provides a handy distraction from their project delay problems - and a reasonable excuse for them too.


peter
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