Optical/IP Networks

Juniper Wins Monster Router Test

Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) has defeated its number one rival, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), in the first multivendor test of Internet core routers.

The independent evaluation, which was commissioned by Light Reading and took six months to complete, proves that Juniper’s M160 platform is currently superior to Cisco's latest 12416 product in three key performance areas: IP (Internet protocol), MPLS (multiprotocol label switching), and OC192 (10 Gbit/s). The vendors’ products are evenly matched in the performance of their OC48 (2.5 Gbit/s) interfaces. (Click here to view the complete report).

The tests were performed for Light Reading by Network Test Inc., an independent benchmarking and network design consultancy. “In some areas Juniper’s M160 is in a class by itself,” says David Newman, president of Network Test.

His report on the test results concludes that:

“[The M160] holds more BGP (border gateway protocol) routes and more MPLS label-switched paths than any other box. It deals with network instability far better. And it exhibits much lower average latency -– the amount of delay a router introduces -– and latency variation.”

Despite losing to Juniper in three out of four overall areas, the test results also contained good news for Cisco. For example, the data demonstrates that its OC192 interfaces not only exist -– but can also process a torrent of data at line rate. Indeed, Cisco’s 12416 turned in the highest single data rate achieved in the entire test: more than 271 million packets per second.

With improvements, Cisco’s router could represent serious competition for Juniper. “Cisco has served notice that it’s no longer the easy target that allowed Juniper to gain 30 percent share in just a few years,” says Network Test’s Newman.

In contrast, the test results turned in by the other two vendors tested -- Charlotte’s Networks Inc. and Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY) -- were all cloud, no silver lining. Charlotte’s Networks’ Aranea-1 fumbled packets at every level of loading offered – including one percent. Foundry’s Netiron pretty much gave up the ghost in the flapping and convergence test (which might explain why, since the tests, the company has announced that it will withdraw from the core router market).

Results such as these will do little to encourage the belief that other vendors will be able to do anything to weaken Cisco and Juniper’s stranglehold on the market for Internet core routers for the foreseeable future. (Avici, which places a distant third to the two vendors in terms of market share, failed to show up for the test.)

In an interview last year, Scott Kriens, CEO of Juniper, made the following statement to Light Reading: “Service providers already have two credible sources for high-speed routers: Cisco and Juniper. The market has yet to demonstrate that it wants a third.” On the basis of the Light Reading test results, service providers couldn’t have a third source even if they wanted it.

The diagnostic equipment used in the test was manufactured by Spirent Communications. The equipment, worth $2.6 million, was used to evaluate routers from the four vendors worth a combined total of $29 million .

This is the first time that the networking industry has known for a fact which company had the better product. Until now, service providers and other customers have largely had to rely on vendor-sponsored tests, marketing materials, and hearsay when analyzing core router products.

Light Reading’s test represents a number of other significant firsts:

  • The first multivendor test of core routers
  • The first test of 10-Gbit/s OC192 router interfaces
  • The first time that Cisco agreed to let any of its gear be evaluated in an independent public test

    All of the test results are being published on Light Reading's new Web site, Light Testing (www.lightreading.com/testing), which is being launched today. Light Testing will host the results of a string of tests being planned by Light Reading on leading-edge optical networking equipment and services

    -- Stephen Saunders, U.S. editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com
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