Ethernet equipment

Juniper Tunes Its Ethernet, IPTV Stories

CHICAGO -- Globalcomm 2006 -- If Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) underwhelmed you with its Ethernet cards released this week, don't worry. The company says there's more to come.

Some analysts and even some competitors expected Juniper to launch a full-blown Ethernet switch at Globalcomm. (See Juniper Readies Ethernet Launch.) What Juniper announced, though, was a handful of Ethernet cards for its flagship M- and T-series routers. (See Juniper Makes Its Ethernet Move.)

But the company hinted of more to come at a midweek press conference launching Juniper's Open IPTV and Multiplay Initiative, which despite the name is really targeting services of all types.

The Ethernet cards marked "the first part of what I would call 'rolling thunder' announcements" slated for the next 12 to 18 months," says Shailesh Shukla, Juniper's VP of service provider marketing. He says Juniper started with the cards because that's what its customers wanted: a means to convert ATM and Frame Relay services to Ethernet without losing quality of service (QOS).

Juniper is also beefing up the E320 router, which was launched last year as an Ethernet density play. "The E-series platform does require additional high-density Ethernet as well as high-density uplink capability. Juniper does recognize that," Shukla says. (See Juniper Aims E-Series at IPTV.)

It's all in response to criticism that Juniper is falling behind as IPTV deployments progress. Juniper counters that its routers are being used in some of the world's biggest IPTV projects, but critics worry that the company is losing ground to Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Redback Networks Inc. . (See IPTV, Alcatel Still Dog Juniper.)

Juniper also says it's prepping the network for multiple services, not just IPTV -- and that to build a network just for IPTV would be a mistake. That's where the Open IPTV and Multiplay Initiative comes in. (See Juniper Intros OpenIPTV.)

Opening up
"Multiplay" is Juniper's newly coined term for the combination of voice, video, data, wireless, and whatever other applications get created. ("Multiplay" might be yet another buzzword, but maybe it beats other options -- see Quadruple Play Is Out.)

The initiative's objective is to let applications talk to Juniper's SDX 300 Service Deployment System through an application programming interface (API). The SDX 300 is a server-based software and tools package that can set up the network to deliver the right QOS or security for a particular application.

The idea is that applications get a say in how they traverse the network. "We believe this is something that someone needs to take industry leadership on," Shukla says.

But would it apply to any networks beyond Juniper's? The company's last grand plan, the Infranet Initiative, morphed into the IPsphere Forum last year, reportedly at the insistence of carriers that wanted to see Alcatel and Cisco involved. (See Juniper's Infranet Takes Baby Steps and Infranet Becomes IPsphere.) Is a similar name change in the future for Open IPTV?

"That is a question for Cisco," Shukla tells Light Reading. "Are they willing to open up, for their IP infrastructure to be controlled by applications?"

Cisco says yes, noting it's already done that with its own Globalcomm announcement of the Intelligent Services Gateway (ISG) for its 10000 Series and 7200 Series routers.

The ISG cards let those routers handle subscriber-management decisions, such as who gets admission for particular services, around the edges of the network. (See Cisco Intros ISG.) Applications can talk to the ISG via open protocols such as XML, says Suraj Shetty, director of marketing for Cisco's routing and service provider technology group.

Open IPTV wouldn't be the answer for Juniper's IPTV woes anyway, he notes. "The bigger problem that Juniper will have to address is carrier Ethernet and how they're going to do the whole aggregation piece."

Juniper says it has 10 customers that have built interfaces to, or software applications for its SDX, among them IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE).

In a related Globalcomm announcement, Juniper became part of the Microsoft IPTV "ecosystem." That means Juniper's security gear has Microsoft's stamp of approval, a plus when Juniper comes calling to customers of Microsoft TV's IPTV Edition. (See Juniper, Microsoft Team.)

On hand at Globalcomm to discuss that part of the announcement was Christine Heckart, the former Juniper VP of marketing who left to take the job as general manager of marketing for Microsoft TV. (See VP Jumps From Juniper.) The connection is coincidental, both sides insist -- Juniper says it was talking to Microsoft long before Heckart took the job there. Heckart notes, furthermore, that she doesn't own any Juniper stock.

The security announcement deals with just control and signaling traffic, not with the video itself. The idea is to block video servers and other infrastructure gear from denial-of-service attacks, viruses, and the like.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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