Juniper Aims E-Series at IPTV
With an update to its E-series routers, Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) becomes the latest broadband remote access server (B-RAS) vendor to rejigger its products for the sake of IPTV.
The E320, announced today, continues the ERX line acquired in 2002 with Unisphere Networks (see Juniper Nabs Unisphere for $740M). The box uses the same operating system and same linecards as its predecessors, keeping the family tree intact. What's new is that the E320 was designed with video in mind, adding the quality of service (QOS) and high availability that carriers want for IPTV, as well as a huge increase in density.
"For the past four years, DSL has been about a single best-effort type of service" -- namely, Web browsing, says David Boland, Juniper product marketing manager. "As the services have evolved to triple play [voice, video, and data], the access network architectures have evolved."
The B-RAS controls subscriber connection in a broadband network. Among other tasks, it provides functions such as authentication, and it monitors QOS to make sure the subscriber is getting the bandwidth promised. Depending on one's point of view, the B-RAS can be a single box, or it can be a function distributed among many points in the network.
Early B-RAS designs focused on controlling as many subscriber sessions as possible, but at the time, the bandwidth per subscriber wasn't so monumental. That's beginning to change with the rise of IPTV. "You've got to have 5 Mbit/s dedicated bandwidth all the time for each subscriber," says Graham Beniston, an analyst with Heavy Reading (see Rethinking B-RAS in an IPTV World?).
To that end, Juniper's most noteworthy change with the E320 comes in sheer heft -- 320 Gbit/s of switching capacity and the ability to support 128,000 subscribers. That's a "long overdue" leap from 40 Gbit/s for the ERX 1440, previously the largest box in Juniper's E-series, Beniston says.
Of course, IPTV isn't exactly a secret. Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK) recently upgraded its SmartEdge routers to better accommodate IPTV, and ECI Telecom Ltd. (Nasdaq/NM: ECIL) cited video services as a motivation for acquiring Laurel Networks Inc. and its combo edge router and B-RAS (see Routers Answer IPTV Call and ECI to Buy Laurel for $88M). Some startups went for big density in the first place, but the timing apparently wasn't right. "Laurel led the way, but they didn't get a big installed base," Beniston notes. "One other box with huge throughput came from my favorite, CoSine. But nobody went for that, either." CoSine Communications Inc. cut nearly all its employees last year and accepted -- then rejected -- a buyout offer from Tut Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: TUTS). (See CoSine Sold for $24M and CoSine Terminates Merger Agreement.)
Table 1 recounts the B-RAS score after the E320's arrival. Note that Cisco has two boxes selling into this space: the 10000 series, considered Cisco's primary B-RAS entry, and the 7600 line of edge routers (of which the 7613 is the largest), which include some B-RAS capabilities. Table 1: B-RAS Backplane Switching Capacities
|Redback||SmartEdge 800||160 Gbit/s|
|Juniper||ERX 1440||40 Gbit/s|
* 100 Gbit/s option also available
Source: Company reports and Heavy Reading. All figures "half duplex"; halve the numbers for full-duplex metrics
With the E320, Juniper says it's increased the emphasis on QOS and high availability, two areas deemed critical for IPTV, as video streams will have to be continuous and uninterrupted.
Outside the B-RAS realm, Ethernet edge systems are preparing for IPTV, as seen in recent product upgrades from Anda Networks Inc. and Hammerhead Systems Inc. (see Anda Unveils Ethernet Aggregator and Hammerhead Releases Ethernet Suite).
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading