But while Huawei is considered an able competitor in routers, analysts have their doubts that its core router will make much of a splash. Core routers are just too difficult a market, says analyst Samuel Wilson of JMP Securities.
"How much business did Procket do? And they had Tony Li," Wilson says (see Procket Reaches 'End of Life').
Yet another question about Huawei's move is what it will mean for Avici Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: AVCI; Frankfurt: BVC7), one of its partners. Huawei resells Avici's SSR core routers under the name NE5000.
Separately, Huawei is developing the Quidway NE5000E Terabit Core Router, which it has begun marketing in China, according to Avici officials. The system was announced last fall.
Most Huawei officials were unavailable for comment due to this week's New Year's holiday, but a spokesman -- reached on holiday in rural China -- confirmed that the NE5000E is a home-grown Huawei project.
The NE5000E has slots for 64 10-Gbit/s interfaces, with 40-Gbit/s interfaces to be offered "in the near future," giving each chassis a potential throughput of 2.56 Tbit/s.
Beyond that, up to 64 chassis can be connected together for a total throughput exceeding 160 Tbit/s with 40-Gbit/s interfaces, or 40 Tbit/s using today's 10-Gbit/s interfaces.
Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) announced their own multichassis core routers last year, and of course Avici has its own multichassis product (see Cisco Unveils the HFR and Juniper Unveils the TX). Here's a rundown of the competiton:
Table 1: Multichassis Router Derby
|Cisco||CRS-1||46 Tbit/s* in a 72-chassis configuration|
|Huawei||NE5000E||41 Tbit/s in a 64-chassis configuration (OC192 interfaces only)|
|Juniper||TX||1.28 Tbit/s by linking four T640s together|
|Avici||TSR||5.6 Tbit/s achieved by adding switch cards in up to 14 chassis; larger configurations may be possible|
|Chiaro||Enstara||3.125 Tbit/s multichassis configuration consisting of 315 slots of 10 Gbit/s|
|* That's 92 Tbit/s, adjusted to fit the counting schemes of the other vendors
Source: Company releases
History is not on Huawei's side here, as no terabit router startup besides Avici has picked up any success. The roster of the fallen includes such bubble-era names as Axiowave, Ironbridge, Pluris, and, most recently, Procket. From the startup side, Chiaro Networks Inc. is still giving it a shot, having recently inked a reseller deal with ECI Telecom Ltd. (Nasdaq/NM: ECIL) (see Chiaro Lands ECI Investment).
So does the NE5000E conflict with the Huawei-Avici alliance? Not necessarily, because analysts think Huawei will face the same problems that sank all those startups. Carriers take years to get comfortable with buying from a vendor -- and the core router, being a crucial decision, takes even longer than most sales.
"It'll be a long time before they have a credible router," says one analyst who asked to remain anonymous.
Likewise, Avici isn't concerned about the NE5000E. "It's interesting in China. It's not going to be that interesting outside China," says William Leighton, Avici's CEO. Still, it's yet to be seen what impact the NE5000E might have on Avici's relationship with Huawei, as Avici will be banking on its resellers to help increase its customer base.
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading
For more on this topic, check out:
- The Heavy Reading reports:
— Next-Generation Routers: A Comprehensive Product Analysis
— Telecom Recovery Leaders and Laggards
For further education, visit the archives of related Light Reading Webinars: