x
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.

<<   <   Page 2 / 4   >   >>
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.

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
<<   <   Page 2 / 4   >   >>
HOME
Sign In
SEARCH
CLOSE
MORE
CLOSE