Lucent Bags High-End Switch

Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) has discontinued development on a high-end core ATM switch, just when it was due to go into production.

The company confirmed this morning that it's ceasing work on the MSC 25000 Multiservice Packet Core Switch, which was released as a "new flagship" in the vendor's core switching portfolio this past June (see Lucent Intros Products, Upgrades).

"We've been in the process of conducting product portfolio re-evaluations and making some tough decisions," says Lucent spokesperson Michael Alva.

The move magnifies the difficulty that large telecom equipment companies such as Lucent and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) are having in making the transition from older networking switches based on ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) to next-generation multiservice products. This transition has been made especially difficult by the carrier spending decline, stock-market crash, and severe financial problems.

As part of its restructuring program, Lucent has been on a mission to "rationalize" its product line, weeding out whatever appears to be slowing down the overall goal of selling to big carriers. So far, the axe has fallen on several products, including the DWDM gear Lucent acquired through its purchase of Chromatis (see Lucent Ditches Chromatis) as well as some low-end platforms in its Metropolis product line (see Optical Team Seeks Group Gig).

Lucent says the big carriers lack firm interest in the features targeted for the initial release of the MSC 25000. Instead, they're focusing on core products with high-speed IP and MPLS quality-of-service capabilities. While these features were in the MSC 25000 roadmap, Alva admits, Lucent couldn't have gotten them in the switch fast enough to suit initial takers.

Other vendors agree that carriers increasingly want MPLS with their ATM core switches. "The ATM market is alive and well," asserts Bob Sullebarger, VP of marketing and business development at Équipe Communications Corp.. He stresses, however, that customers want a clear path to MPLS as an add-on to existing products.

Others agree. "We see very strong interest in ATM core switching," says Adam Twarog, director of marketing and business development at the Carrier Internetworking Division of Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA).

He says most carriers continue to support connection-oriented networks for frame relay and ATM alongside connectionless IP and routing faclities. Increasingly, they see MPLS as being instrumental in helping to manage both. Alcatel says many customers are testing out its MPLS capabilities for the 7670 Routing Switch Platform (RSP).

Équipe and Alcatel continue to pour effort into their ATM core switches. Équipe plans to ship its own product later this year -- at about the time Lucent would have debuted the MSC 25000. Other big players, including Nortel, say plans are on track for new products as well.

None of these vendors is likely to mourn the loss of a competing product. And they might have another to contend with yet: before the end of the year, Lucent plans to replace the MSC 25000 with a new "high speed" multiservice switch -- one that supports frame relay, ATM, and IP in one platform with IP quality-of-service and MPLS capabilities.

But Lucent is keeping mum on specifics. It won't say what it means by "high speed," or whether the new switch will build on the technology originally developed for the MSC 25000.

Also not being addressed are rumors that the facility in Westford, Mass., charged with MSC development, will suffer layoffs as a result of the product discontinuation. "We won't comment on rumors and speculation," Adva says.

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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seen_the_light 12/4/2012 | 11:16:53 PM
re: Lucent Bags High-End Switch
whatever happened to it?
Belzebutt 12/4/2012 | 7:49:54 PM
re: Lucent Bags High-End Switch I'm surprised the MSC 25000 didn't have these features from the start, no wonder it got canned. More market share for the next Passport, I believe it is already #1 in MSS...
Belzebutt 12/4/2012 | 7:49:53 PM
re: Lucent Bags High-End Switch Was the MSC 25000 the last of the Ascend products?
broadbandboy 12/4/2012 | 7:49:53 PM
re: Lucent Bags High-End Switch So Lucent has finally killed the troubled Oz platform, and with it any hope of an upgrade path for all the Cascade 500 and 550s. Wavesmith and Equipe must be popping the Champagne corks about now!

Lets hear from some ex-Robbins Road guys on why they made this 180 degree about face on a product just announced at Supercom?
Metal 12/4/2012 | 7:49:53 PM
re: Lucent Bags High-End Switch The problem with the MSC25000 was nopt its feature set (although it was lacking). The real problem was that the carriers realized that Lucent can't support their own switches anymore.

Take a walk down Robbins Road and you won't see hardly anyone who's been there more than a year or two. These switches are now 4, 5, 6 years old - no one's left who knows how they work. For the most part you have a bunch of very green engineers who are struggling to learn English, let alone understand how the very complex software works.

So it seems safe to assume that Lucent will not be able to recover in this space. Yet if there many thousands of these switches in the field providing strong revenue streams, what are these carriers supposed to do? Eventually they will need to switch to a new vendor.

Gotham and WaveSmith seem to be the closest matches (but is Gotham viable anymore?).
yomama 12/4/2012 | 7:49:53 PM
re: Lucent Bags High-End Switch Well, the end of an era- Cascade>Ascend>Lucent> Looks like the ATM/Frame Relay cascade switches have run there course, other startups WaveSmith/Equippe will take up the rear..

Too bad, Lucent should of never bought Ascend...Lucent could of not of destroyed the company better even if they planned it..

yomama 12/4/2012 | 7:49:52 PM
re: Lucent Bags High-End Switch The MSC 25000 must of been the last Ascend product, I know that the GX 550 was originally a Cascade product before Ascend bought them, anyway it's sad, there's nobody left there to make this work, I think it's time roll up robbins road, don't know why they put a new building there?
yomama 12/4/2012 | 7:49:52 PM
re: Lucent Bags High-End Switch Bad news for Westford folks, If I were still there I'd be working on my resume, it does not look good
at all. Someone has to support the installed base of thousands of B-STDX 9000's and CBX-500's installed in the field, maybe I'd be looking to move from Robbins Road to Tech Support...hmmm..then again maybe not...UGLY scene...
_____ 12/4/2012 | 7:49:52 PM
re: Lucent Bags High-End Switch Dios Mio!

LU says they will not comment on the next gen box. Sounds like an after-birth of the Nexabit box with an ATM interface. Seeing that the Nexabit box, when turned on, crashes within 56 seconds. I don't think Nortel has anything to worry about.

My sources tell me the msc 25000 was canned because LU knew it would never see the light of day because it would never work the way LU marketing claimed it would.
orange 12/4/2012 | 7:49:47 PM
re: Lucent Bags High-End Switch My insiders knew Oz was cancelled on Monday. What did you expect, all of CSD's management was laid off in August. The Nexabit guys are running the show now, and clearly it came down to Oz or the Nexabit router. Oz never stood a chance despite the fact that Nexabit has yet to deploy anything in a production network. (To the poster who said that the router crashes after 56 seconds, it has improved somewhat, they even have static routing working now!!!) Politics and favoritism rule at Lucent. It gets worse for what's left at Westford, Lucent is currently building an off-shore ATM/FR switching house in India (check out www.iidc.lucent.com and click thru the HR/recruitment links). Given that the executives in charge are the ones who moved CSD's NMS to India, I give Westford 12 months before the entire operation is moved out there. It's a shame, Cascade used to be quite a company.

Yo Harley: the disasterous Amethyst and early Jade releases were Ascend shit, not Cascade's or Lucent's. The software quality is actually much better today than it was 2 years ago. Also there are still some great engineers at Westford, but most of them are trapped waiting for their green cards.

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