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Optical/IP

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.

hyperunner 12/4/2012 | 9:22:33 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied Ibeenframed wrote...

"Exactly the point - Marconi was singled out using the timing of the Tolley group report as an excuse for the thrashing."


But that's the whole point. Let's say LR had 3 vendors lined up for the switch test. Two of them pull out and one stays in. One of the vendors who pulled out (ie. Marconi) then pays Tolly to test their switch instead of using LR's free test for which they've been allowed to input suggestions on the test schedule.

The other vendor who pulled out stays quiet about it.

IMHO, LR are probably justified in assuming that Marconi has something to hide, no?

hR.
rzerockzeron 12/4/2012 | 9:22:56 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied What we have here is...failure to communicate...

(nah, just wanted to write that)

What we have here is...just another example of LR's dichotomy. On one hand they go after the serious optical networking reporting & journalism biz, even throw in some analyst effort (optical oracle), YET...

on the other hand they are the Optical Tattler (yes, this is a Red Dragon reference, loved the movie)of the industry by publishing articles on worst company (and individual) names (best articles on LR EVER, period), trashing NT, Marconi and other corps. not "collaborating" (man did I want to write buying) with them, etc...

So what will it be LR? Serious journalism or campy journalism? My vote would be for campy journalism (I do get my laughs every day by logging onto this website) but I understand the VCs do not go for these circus-type business plans anymore (at least not since CORV went from #1 IPO of the year to huh? in one year...)

Ultimately, the question is left unanswered...who did it, Pete?

Love,

RZ.
Peter Heywood 12/4/2012 | 9:22:56 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied Thanks hyperunner.

It's great to see an existing Marconi customer make these points!
Ibeenframed 12/4/2012 | 9:22:59 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied "But wouldn't those vendors who pulled out prefer that this wasn't revealed? I mean, Marconi probably aren't pleased about being named?"

Exactly the point - Marconi was singled out using the timing of the Tolley group report as an excuse for the thrashing.

ibf

PS - Make one small typo - look what happens! :-)
hyperunner 12/4/2012 | 9:23:01 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied Ibeenframed wrote:

"It would be enlightening if LR disclosed who they invited, who declined immediately and who pulled out after discussions - and who remained."

I think that's a fair request, I wonder if LR will oblige? But wouldn't those vendors who pulled out prefer that this wasn't revealed? I mean, Marconi probably aren't pleased about being named? It's just that the other vendors didn't go off and pay for their own tests.

hR.

PS. Earlier in your post, did you mean "testes"...I wouldn't have had the balls to write that :-)


...apologies for that, it's Friday, it's been a long week and frankly I just needed the laugh!
Ibeenframed 12/4/2012 | 9:23:05 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied A valid point.

To be fair though we should ask how many vendors were invited and didn't participate. How many discussed attending and declined. This article is a very clear spotlight on Marconi (as it should be since Marconi released the Tolley report) - but if the testes were such that other vendors found them unfavorable enough that they too decided to "not support" the test. It could well be that the LR specified test might have been more than most chose to support. It would be enlightening if LR disclosed who they invited, who declined immediately and who pulled out after discussions - and who remained.
hyperunner 12/4/2012 | 9:23:07 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied Folks, I know there's an element of sour grapes in this article, but I'll say again, as an existing Marconi customer, and potential customer for the BXR I'd feel a lot better if the switch was tested against other vendors' products and not in a "pay for the result you want" lab like Tolly.

Reading the article it looks to me like Marconi said they wanted to join EANTC's test, and even influenced the nature of the test (ie. put in more ATM tests). Then they backed away from it.

The excuse that they only had the resource to do one test doesn't fly. If you're low on marketing budget like Marconi, do you choose to pay Tolly for a test or get a free (and more credible??) test from Light Reading?

Sure, Light Reading are acting like some kid took their ball away, but that frankly doesn't bother me. I want to know why Marconi backed out of EANTC's test.

hR.
Ibeenframed 12/4/2012 | 9:23:09 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied Peter - this is a common industry practice and everybody knows about the limitations of tests from labs like Tolley.

What got you so fired up about this particular one? You must have run dozens of stories about other vendors doing the same thing and you didn't trash them so harshly. None of what you say may be wrong - but you sure look mean and petty saying it.
dellman 12/4/2012 | 9:23:15 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied My point is 'SVC' numbers need not be different. Setting up that many number of SVCs may require setups which might be questioned again.

The important point is Marconi supports 2 million connections.
the other boxes that might be in the same market space clearly does not have this capacity.
Alcatel 7670:
256,000 connections in the database; up to 768,000 transient connections
AlasPoorYorick 12/4/2012 | 9:23:31 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied And full apologies to hyperruner for botching the
formating that would have made clear the first
3 paragraphs are his/hers:

"The final part of the article mentions the loss
of David Drury from Marconi.

This is clearly not a volutary departure, and
it surprises me that Marconi can afford to lose
people like this at a time when you need to
keep your very best people.

I've met Mr.Drury on several occasions when he
presented Marconi's strategy and product
roadmaps to us, as well as at ATM Forum
meetings in the early 90s. Not all the customer
meetings were harmonious, as all vendors have
slips in their schedules. But I always found
Mr.Drury to be totally professional, and very
informed on leading edge communications topics.

H.R."

Informed and professional are just the tip of the
iceberg. I heard Dave Drury talk about present
and future telecomm services and his insights on
what makes profitable services was extraordinary.

I still review his presentation from time to time
and it's always refreshing.

Either Marconi or the industry or both are in the
doldrums if they can do this.

AlasPoorYorick
AlasPoorYorick 12/4/2012 | 9:23:31 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied The final part of the article mentions the loss
of David Drury from Marconi.

This is clearly not a volutary departure, and
it surprises me that Marconi can afford to lose
people like this at a time when you need to
keep your very best people.

I've met Mr.Drury on several occasions when he
presented Marconi's strategy and product
roadmaps to us, as well as at ATM Forum
meetings in the early 90s. Not all the customer
meetings were harmonious, as all vendors have
slips in their schedules. But I always found
Mr.Drury to be totally professional, and very
informed on leading edge communications topics.

Informed and professional are just the tip of the
iceberg. I heard Dave Drury talk about present
and future telecomm services and his insights on
what makes profitable services was extraordinary.

I still review his presentation from time to time
and it's always refreshing.

Either Marconi or the industry or both are in the
doldrums if they can do this.

AlasPoorYorick
vic demux 12/4/2012 | 9:23:31 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied Kirk Bach has left Zolo Technologies after delivering one of the best difraction gratings needed for DWDM. Kirk is choosing to ride out his non-compete term for three years, which should coincide with the recovery of the telecom industry. Inside sources allege brothers, Erich and Bennie could soon follow. Parties close to the situation cite manufaturability and cost to produce as key hurdles for Zolo to overcome, but management seems to be the biggest stumbling block.
netgenius 12/4/2012 | 9:23:38 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied I believe the answer is that customers (especially Service Providers) are not asking for Light Reading test results but are asking for Tolly test results.

These are business decisions that are guided by purchasing customers and not snubbed writers of publications with an axe to grind (wheter personal or business).

My 2 cents.

BobbyMax 12/4/2012 | 9:23:39 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied Almost the entire R&D organization has tobe commited over a period of time to support the testing activities. That is why, this process cannot be repeated.

Some vendors like Cisco have never subjected their system to be tested. Vendors fear that the test results would be published and that is why they are reluctant to get their system tested. Not meeting the performance numbers may mean the demise of the company/organization.

Some companies never reveal even the results of internal testing to the customers. They simply say trust me. It is sad but the reality of the US business System which preaches the gospel: Buyers be Aware! Very sad attitude indeed.
achorale 12/4/2012 | 9:23:43 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied nenene66 wrote:

"If you want to be treated better than the "National Enquirer" then write about the news"

Comparing LR to National Enquirer reflects negatively on the latter. At least the NE sometimes have their facts right. They also know their place in the journalistic food chain :).

What LR and NE have in common is they both serve up juicy stories that create plenty of controversy and in many cases emotional reactions.

And that seems to be the primary reason many readers keep coming back to these boards. It's light, it's fun - no, it's sometimes hysterical. But is has absolutely no business value whatsoever. It's entertainment, that's all it is.
LightGaugeGuitarString 12/4/2012 | 9:23:48 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied dellman said:
"Not practical to setup 2 Million SVCs."

Hooey. How is it less practical to setup 2 Million SVCs than it is setting up 2 Million PVCs? A test tool that generates lots of SNMP SETs vs. a BCG that generates lots of Q.2931 messages. How are they so fundamentally different from a practicality perspective?

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

Why would I care? Why wouldn't I? Marconi are the ones who paid Tolly to perform a test, I didn't hold a gun to their heads. I'm asking a simple question - why didn't they perform (or publish) any SVC results in this test.

Are you saying that SVCs aren't important?

LGGS
Peter Heywood 12/4/2012 | 9:23:49 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied ...I did say in the article that Tolly's test results were impressive.

The point I was making that they appeared to be heavily focused on ATM, not MPLS. I don't have a problem with this. ATM is what's selling at the moment, so I totally understand why Marconi has focused on delivering blistering ATM performance in the first release of its product.

What I was raising questions about was whether Tolly's tests substantiate Marconi's marketing claims of having a switch that "unlike any other platform in its class.......will concurrently and natively support connectionless IP, MPLS and ATM" as Marconi says in its press release.

In my view, our tests would have demonstrated whether this was a fair claim - and would have done this in a more convincing way that Marconi paying Tolly to do some tests.

I suggest you hang fire on passing judgement on our methodology until you actually see it, toegther with the test results. They'll be out in a few weeks.
hyperunner 12/4/2012 | 9:23:49 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied The final part of the article mentions the loss of David Drury from Marconi.

This is clearly not a volutary departure, and it surprises me that Marconi can afford to lose people like this at a time when you need to keep your very best people.

I've met Mr.Drury on several occasions when he presented Marconi's strategy and product roadmaps to us, as well as at ATM Forum meetings in the early 90s. Not all the customer meetings were harmonious, as all vendors have slips in their schedules. But I always found Mr.Drury to be totally professional, and very informed on leading edge communications topics.

In fact I seem to remember that when GEC acquired FORE Systems a few years back we were told that if we wanted a high level technology strategy presentation from Marconi we'd have to wait until David Drury had some time available. Apparently there wasn't a single person in Europe who could give this presentation for GEC/FORE, which is surprising considering GEC was UK-based!!!

hR.
kokoro 12/4/2012 | 9:23:49 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied What I think is as follows.
I don't want to get into the details of the "article" (yes, I know, the word sounds really inappropriate...) but what comes loudly to my eyes is the general offensive taste of that jumble of misplaced words. Offensive for the writer, more than for the reader.

When you read things like those, it's really hard to care about the contents, and it's more than natural to get furious in seeing such a stupid unwrapped bias against correctness and any common sense.

If, and I underline if, you can reach the end of the article, you actually don't fall for the wretched trick but you do think that other articles like that, not many really, will definitely keep you away from Lightreading for a good while.

It wouldn't be a reparation at all but apologies would help in some way.

Cheers
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?
dellman 12/4/2012 | 9:23:50 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied LR editors

Be reasonable. LR is just few years old. Marconi and Tolly are known Industry names. Don't discredit them just because Marconi did not say 'yes' to your proposal. Vendors project the best features of their equipments and Marconi did just that. Marconi got independent groups like Tolly, BT exact to verify their switches. Check out the Mier communications test reports on Cisco boxes.

the tests prove the following
1) Marconi has a working ATM switch/router and it is big - 240G. ( can be extended to 480G as per vendor. Marconi( FORE) expertise on ATM is well known in industry.
2) Marconi's unique architecture works. ( Payload agnostic fabrics). The architecture is unique and promises a great deal of performance.
3) Marconi is developing POS blades/MPLS software and it may be available soon(?).

If service providers are looking for a multiservice switch and plan to roll out IP/MPLS services in future, then this switch seems to fill the requirements.
hyperunner 12/4/2012 | 9:23:50 PM
re: Marconi's Switch Gets Tolly-fied We are an existing Marconi customer and we may be in the running for the BXR in the future (it's too big for us right now).

I've seen this switch and it looks impressive. I've heard the marketing briefings and seen the roadmap.

As a potential customer it's particularly important for me to see the base functionality of new boxes tested independently.

IMHO there is no such thing as an truly independent benchmark. Most of the people who work in these "labs" have little or no real, large-scale network deployment experience. They just know how to set up their test networks, and where to plug in the analysers.

I think it's generally accepted in the industry that if you want a favourable benchmark - go to Tolly. As someone else pointed out the only use for a Tolly test result is to identify the features that the manufacturers want to promote.

In contrast, while the EANTC tests are also "bought and paid for", at least they are performed to a jointly agreed test schedule. In other words, once the test starts, gremlins and bad results will be reported.

Given that the Light Reading tests are not costing you a dime Marconi, I would urge you to submit the BXR now that the Tolly test has assured you of its high levels of performance.

What are you afraid they'll find?


hR.
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.

mpoa
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.
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?
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?

http://www.miercom.com/?url=re...

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.
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.

LGGS
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.
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?
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