Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied

Marconi plc (Nasdaq/London: MONI) today announced results of tests of its BXR-48000 switch conducted by Tolly Group (see Marconi Passes Tolly Test).

The tests, on a single-rack version of the switch, indicate that it can handle 2 million simultaneous connections operating at wirespeed, with an overall capacity of 240 Gbit/s. A two-rack version is supposed to handle 480 Gbit/s, although this wasn't tested.

Impressive? Yes. But does this prove that the BXR-48000 is what Marconi claims it to be? That is, a "switch-router" that "unlike any other platform in its class... will concurrently and natively support connectionless IP routing, MPLS, and ATM switching."

Not really, on a couple of counts.

First, although Marconi says the tests were "independent," it paid the Tolly Group to conduct them. In other words, Marconi was in a position to say which aspects of its switch should be tested and which aspects should be discreetly overlooked. Likewise, Marconi was in a position to supress publication of any results that didn't quite come up to scratch.

Of course, this may not have happened. "Tolly's credibility is beyond reproach," says Geof Becker, a Marconi spokesman. All the same, there's no way of checking.

There's also some evidence that the Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and Internet Protocol (IP) routing capabilities of the BXR-48000 weren't exactly stretched to the limit. For a kickoff, the test report posted on Tolly's Website makes it clear that the current commercial version of the BXR-48000 is a plain and simple Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) switch. The packet-over-Sonet interfaces tested by Tolly are in an "advanced stage of development," according to Tolly's test report (page 4). In other words, they're prototypes that aren't yet commercially available.

Other evidence of Marconi's reluctance to have the MPLS performance of its switch put under a public microscope comes from Light Reading's own test of multiservice switches, conducted by European Advanced Networking Test Center AG (EANTC) using test equipment from Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A).

In this case, the tests are truly independent. They are being paid for by Light Reading; Marconi simply had to ship its switch to EANTC's lab and configure it. And yet Marconi pulled out.

Why? Marconi's Becker says Marconi "had concerns" about the test plan and didn't have the resources to have its switch tested by both Tolly and Light Reading.

In fact, Marconi spent a couple of months discussing the test plan put forward by Light Reading and EANTC. The initial plan was heavily focused on MPLS, and to accommodate Marconi, the emphasis was shifted so that it was equally split between ATM and MPLS. Even so, Marconi ended up declining to participate.

The results of Light Reading's multiservice switch test are scheduled for publication in the next few weeks.

So far, Marconi has only managed to sell its BXR-48000 to one customer, the U.S. Department of Defense, which is reportedly using it as an ATM switch, not a multiservice switch.

Last week, Marconi laid off a further 255 people in the broadband routing and switching division manufacturing the BXR-48000, leaving about 800 on staff.

David Drury, vice president of technology strategy at Marconi and president of the MPLS Forum, was among those let go. Drury is thought to have played an important role in the DoD contract. "I didn't see this coming," Drury told Light Reading today, as he cleared his desk. "I'm still dealing with the shock and anger."

— Peter Heywood, Founding Editor, Light Reading
www.lightreading.com Want to know more? The big cheeses of the optical networking industry will be discussing multiservice switches at Lightspeed Europe. Check it out at Lightspeed Europe 02.

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pnni-1 12/4/2012 | 9:23:58 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied This is a great start! Bring it on!! Is the BXR in the lightreading router test?
KnightLight 12/4/2012 | 9:23:57 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied Peter Heywood,

Man...this is pathetic (Lightreading that is). Do you seriously consider yourself a journalist? I've never seen such an overblown slam of a vendor by an industry rag...and right now you look more like the "monthly rag" than an industry rag.

Try to report the facts next time without your rabid, foaming at the mouth bias. Did Marconi not show up for your test so now your throwing a tantrum?? I can just hear the phone calls now..."If you Marconi jerks don't sign up for my wittle test I'm gonna hold my breath..." -like a 3 year old.

I guess there's all kind of things you can do with a website, but dude - this is your job....try to act a l-i-t-t-l-e professional next time. Did anybody else show up for this test?? Probably one vendor so you felt that you'd lose face and now your using your website platform to strike back...again pathetic.

It's time for you to grow up and the rest of us to to real, professional news sources like Network World Fusion.
Scott Raynovich 12/4/2012 | 9:23:56 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied Hmm, who's the rabid one here?
LightGaugeGuitarString 12/4/2012 | 9:23:56 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied Interesting, they didn't test the SVC call setup capacity.

KnightLight 12/4/2012 | 9:23:54 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied Lightreading quote: 'Of course, this may not have happened. "Tolly's credibility is beyond reproach," says Geof Becker, a Marconi spokesman. All the same, there's no way of checking."'

You act like this is some kind of -revelation- and somehow different from tests commissioned by Lightreading that 'bastion of newsworthiness and objectivity'...don't make me wretch.

Just take a look at the Test Report page from Tolly's rival Mier Communications...all the reports were paid for by Cisco....strange that Marconi comes out with one Tolly Report and you rant and rave, but Cisco pays for a dozen and you make no comment...maybe it's just that Cisco pays for advertising on Lightreading?


How is Marconi paying the Tolly Group to perform a test any different than any other vendor or Lightreading paying EANTC to perform a test?? In both cases the testing team will only report the facts, but both Marconi and Lightreading have the option (being the paying customer) to report only the parts they want to market to the public.

Marconi probably was selective in the information it wanted to market since the BXR-48000 is a new product...this is common sense.

You claimed that you "accomodated" Marconi in your "Multiservice" Switch Test by adding ATM test cases. Perhaps you have the Bill-Clintonese version of the English dictionary....My read on this is that you're too lazy to write a real multiservice switch test plan (or don't know how to) so you figured 'Hey we have a Core Router test plan sitting around and no one on the Lightreading staff can even spell ATM or multiservice...so let's just recycle that thing....and, uh...MPLS is pretty nifty so let's focus on that instead of multiservice over an ATM core' - which is what people would have actually been more interested in the first place...since it speaks of real-world applications and networks...not ones concocted by some clueless IP mantra-boy on Lightreading's payroll.

Marconi apparently did you a favor and at least made your test plan look a little more multiservice - by the definition that really matters to an SP. If you define multiservice as MPLS for this type of platform or market space you should just change your name right now to Stewart Pid.
daboyz 12/4/2012 | 9:23:53 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied Based on my experience with the Tolly team, of course they are just a means to help market features of "your product" that you are trying to empasize, and demphasize other features. As long as the test cases are fair & reasonable Tolly will do them & report the facts. The test plan doesn't have to be "all inclusive", but isn't this the case with all test plans, those at LightReading, UNH, etc. Someone or some group determines the test cases, and not all tests can get run or the test plan will never get finished. We all have to read between the lines as we read these reports, that is part of our industry. I personally don't read the Tolly reports much, unless it is a product I am interested in, and I want to see what features they are "pushing". Let's all be reasonable....can't we all just get along?
Iipoed 12/4/2012 | 9:23:52 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied I wonder what kind of positive test results "Tolly provides when the companies they test does not support ($$)Tolly's various seminars.
I have witnessed various tests that depending on the vendor that initiated the test looks the best. The same test initiated later by a competitive vendor shows this vendor in a better light. It really is all nonsense.
The real test have the vendors that are under consideration by the customer provide their eval gear for 30, 60 days.
This is what serious customers do. They don't read silly competitve tests put out by money grabbing pseduo consultants.
opticalwatcher 12/4/2012 | 9:23:52 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied Benchmark v. trans. To subject (a system) to a series of tests in order to
obtain prearranged results not available on competitive systems.
S. Kelly-Boothe

Come-on you guys. Are you really comparing Light Reading's test to tests paid for by a particular manufacturer? Use a little common sense here (or is that asking too much for a message board?).

You've got to have a lot of overblown anger toward Light Reading to put them in the same category.
mpoa 12/4/2012 | 9:23:51 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied Let's give Peter some credit for the article, the fact of the matter and the truth is that Marconi's BXR does not have MPLS ready yet, and/or POS interfaces, they change their priorities based on custmer requirements, since there is no Service Provider that wants 2 23" racks of more than 7 foot equipment to get 480 gig, they had no option to just go with ATM only and 240 gig to start. I do give Marconi credit for the aechitecture of this box, it has potential, but as usual with Marconi they are late to market.

dellman 12/4/2012 | 9:23:50 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied
Not practical to setup 2 Million SVCs.

why do you care? Do you know the SVC call setup capacity of other boxes?
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