Juniper Hatches the M320
As Juniper's new 10-Gbit/s multiservice routing platform, the M320 is designed to handle existing and emerging Layers 2 and 3 services at the edge of service provider networks. The M320 will use Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) technology to carry many different traffic types, including IP, Frame Relay, and ATM.
The launch of the M320 is Juniper's bid to lead the potentially lucrative multiservice edge router market, which virtually all major telecom equipment vendors are rushing to embrace. In fact, just today Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA) announced its own multiservice routing platform (see Tellabs Enhances Multiservice Routers).
With both Juniper and Tellabs making multiservice announcements on the same day, the two companies have accelerated the footrace in the multiservice market. Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) recently acquired Timetra Networks to firm up its own multiservice routing strategy. Startup Laurel Networks Inc. is also a player (See Alcatel & TiMetra Seal the Deal, Tellabs Snags Vivace for $135M, and Laurel Hires New CEO). And Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is not to be ignored.
Juniper’s move is a positive one that could reinforce its foothold in the edge-routing market, according to Heavy Reading chief technologist Geoff Bennett, who says, “It’s surprising that it has taken Juniper so long to get around to this.”
The company is already well established in the market for core routers, says Bennett, although the M320 provides a good opportunity to exploit its position on the edge. “The core of the network is plumbing, but the edge is all about intelligence. If you want to own the customer, you have to be in control of the edge.”
So why did Juniper, which already has an edge router, need a new product? Experts have pointed out that none of Juniper’s platforms -- the home-grown M and T series or the ERX edge routers acquired with Unisphere Networks -- was designed with the multiservice edge in mind (see Juniper Nabs Unisphere for $740M). The move to develop the M320 also clears up some of the confusion about why Juniper killed Unisphere's larger multiservice platform, the MRX (see Juniper Shrinks Its SuperCore Router). It looks as if Juniper was intent on developing a new platform based on its own software (see Juniper's Software Split).
Juniper says the new product runs on the company's Junos operating system and incorporates a new routing engine, the RE 1600, to support thousands of virtual private networks (VPNs) and customer interfaces. The product will also be able to support interface cards for Juniper's M and T series routers. The product includes what it calls the Juniper Frame and ATM Service Emulation (J-FASE) toolkit.
Benjamin Ellis, Juniper Networks’ head of product marketing for EMEA, points to the fact that service providers are looking for a way to roll out services based on IP traffic while at the same time managing their legacy Frame Relay and ATM networks. The M320’s ATM and Frame Relay emulation lets carriers migrate these services over to an MPLS core network, he says.
“The time is right now for multiservice edge platforms,” says Ellis. "People are now at the point where building out different networks is not financially viable in today’s environment."
Juniper says that Global Crossing (Nasdaq: GLBC) is an early tester of the M320 and is planning to use it in its MPLS-based IP network. Ellis says other large carriers have deployed the M320, although he declines to name them.
— James Rogers, Reporter, Light Reading
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading, contributed to this story.
For more information about the multiservice edge, see these Light Reading reports: