Micro MSPPs Are Big

The demand for Ethernet services and the buildout of 3G networks have made a star of micro multiple service provisioning platforms, or micro MSPPs.

A micro MSPP is a small, low-priced, low-capacity switch that aggregates network traffic (in various protocols) onto Sonet/SDH pipes at the edge of the network so that the core network can be simplified and operated more efficiently.

The micro MSPPs stand between 1 and 2 rack units (RU) in height (they can be modular) and usually cost between $3,000 and $8,000. For the small size and small price tag, concessions must be made -- the units' architecture is usually not as fully redundant as larger Sonet platforms.

The micro MSPP concept grew from two realities in the service provider business. First, service providers need to leverage their deep investment in Sonet. Second, they need to satisfy the growing demand for Ethernet-based services. The micro MSPP allows service providers to extend their Sonet/SDH networks to “customer located” sites, making provisioning a smarter, smoother, and less costly affair.

“It is really all about pushing the smarts out to edge of the network where the customers are,” says William Quigley of Clearstone Venture Partners. Quigley says older-generation MSPPs were built to sit in the service provider’s central office (CO), aggregating and switching the traffic for a large area. The old MSPPs therefore needed much more switching capacity (usually 160 Gbit/s to 300 Gbit/s).

But moving all that traffic from the network's edge back to the CO is expensive. Nowadays, much larger traffic loads are being moved in that direction. So carriers need a way to do that switching at the edge so as to eliminate all the backhauling to the CO. The way to do it is to distribute that switching power more finely to more locations at the edge of the network. Since such a scenario creates more switching locations, these new MSPPs can get away with having far less switching capacity. Still, they need to be far less expensive than their $40,000 predecessors to justify the scheme, Quigley says.

The micro MSPPs look good on paper; but what applications are propelling their popularity? As discussed in a Light Reading Webinar held last week, the delivery of Ethernet services will be a major carrier capital expenditure (capex) priority this year. The micro MSPP will likely emerge as a crucial piece of hardware for carriers racing to delivering those services efficiently, according to Andrew Knott of White Rock Networks Inc., which has been selling a micro MSPP since August.

“The reality is the carrier will offer Ethernet to new customers it is trying to take away from somebody else providing basic DSL service,” Knott says, “Some of the smart ones will offer Ethernet to their existing customers so that nobody can steal them, but usually [carriers offering Ethernet] are trying to take subscribers away from competing carriers.”

Besides Ethernet service delivery, 3G network requirements may also be driving a big demand for micro MSPPs. Specifically, micro MSPPs are being sought out for the ability to streamline the movement of wireless traffic among access points.

Clearstone's Quigley says it is no coincidence that places where 3G technology is hot -- like China, Korea, and Japan -- are also the places where demand for micro MSPPs will most likely turn into real sales. China Telecommunications Corp. (NYSE: CHA), Korean incumbent KT Corp., and India’s Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) all have RFPs or RFQs out for micro MSPPs, according to Paul Nahi, CEO of Crimson Microsystems Inc., which supplies components to the makers of micro MSPPs.

The new technologies are nice, but the central appeal of the micro MSPP, from the service provider's point of view, is simply economic: It leverages Sonet, the world's dominant telecom networking technology.

“There has been a substantial investment globally in SDH and Sonet technology in core networks -- I think its something upwards of $300 billion of installed base,” says Michael Crossey of Transmode Systems AB. “And with having those micro MSPPs with those interfaces, it really gives those networks a new lease on life, and allows operators to deploy new data services, high-capacity services, which traditionally weren’t supported on legacy SDH/Sonet.”

Micro MSPPs also support storage networking protocols such as Escon, Fibre Channel, and Ficon, making them a good fit for data centers and medium to large enterprise customers. In fact, many service providers first began buying micro MSPPs to serve their enterprise customers.

“In a full-blown MSPP it is really expected to have a fully redundant system where there is no single point of failure. In the case of the micro MSPP very often there is a tradeoff made, because one its big attributes is cost,” says Transmode’s Crossey.

Micro MSPPs on the market now include ADVA Optical Networking's (Frankfurt: ADV) FSP 1500; Verilink Corp.'s (Nasdaq: VRLK) Orion 5000; Tejas Networks India Ltd.’s TJ100; Transmode’s TSE; and White Rock’s VLX2006. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), ECI Telecom Ltd. (Nasdaq/NM: ECIL), and Luminous Networks Inc. have also announced gear in this space (see Luminous Thinks Small, ECI Intros Small MSPP and MSPPizza to Go at Cisco).

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

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Toad680 12/5/2012 | 3:28:47 AM
re: Micro MSPPs Are Big Anyone heard how they are doing? Last I heard they had a reseller deal with Alcatel for their EoS box, but that it was coming along slowly. Rumor has it initial production shipments have just begun.

Anyone else hearing anything?
Viewpoint 12/5/2012 | 3:28:46 AM
re: Micro MSPPs Are Big Since when did a security company start manufacturing and selling MSSPs ? I didn't know they were so hot :)

You meant Tejas Networks, a Banglore based company and not Tejas securities.
optical 12/5/2012 | 3:28:45 AM
re: Micro MSPPs Are Big White Rock has a trememdous product offering and I'm just shocked that no one has acquired them to date, or maybe they have, but the price just wasn't high enough due to depressed market. Maybe this is their year. Great product in my opinion.
Viewpoint 12/5/2012 | 3:28:45 AM
re: Micro MSPPs Are Big
It had a mirco-MSPP two years back. I remember testing it. Had more features than we require but it was one of the first with a shipping micro-MSPP. Very over-engineered box with no support for native SONET/SDH uplinks. It had very good features on the user side interfaces. Better than Atrica which also has no support for SONET/SDH uplinks. Atrica had very good modularity. Closer to prototype version than deployment product. The native SONET/SDH OEMs lacked user interface features that Atrica and Luminous offered.

I am disappointed with this article. I expected it to have more depth on what micro-MSPP really means. micro-MSPP must support following:

OC3 and OC12 uplinks in native SONET. Face it guys most of our equipment in the ground can't be plugged in with Ethernet or RPR interfaces.

User side interfaces should support edge functionality. This means rate limiting, VLAN translation, modularity on interface mix, user level provisioning, some ability to do IP lookup.
Viewpoint 12/5/2012 | 3:28:44 AM
re: Micro MSPPs Are Big Yes White Rock has a good product lineup. A potential acquirer likes to see a big account and market traction demonstrated by revenues. Not lab trials. Has Tellabs being able to move Whiterock ?

Blame it on market conditions and other factors. Big boys are not spending. Not enough to give profitability to bubble era start ups like White Rocks and others. The technology is few years old. Meanwhile you can buy better chipsets from PMC or AMCC.
Viewpoint 12/5/2012 | 3:28:43 AM
re: Micro MSPPs Are Big Turin doesn't have anything resembling Micro-MSPPs. If one is in works we won't know.

>Did you ever think that they might not want to be

That depends on how long VCs are willing to support them. Are they operationally profitable ?

At cost point of $3000 to $5000 you have to sell a hell lot of these to make up your revenues. You are not selling $100,000 OC-192 boxes. It is a different ballgame.

>They have folks signed up for product but are
>unfortunately not in a position to deliver as of
>yet..."hope springs eternal"

May I know why are they not in position to deliver ?
mrdid13 12/5/2012 | 3:28:43 AM
re: Micro MSPPs Are Big Lonnie and his team are indeed in a good position with good products. Paul is doing a bangup job in marketing but I wonder about their sales crew...they've lost some business in key accounts to Turin Networks. Yes....mrdid13 has been here too and I do indeed have personal connections.

They need to pin down more business in the independent telco space as well as possibly the larger ILECs...too bad they lost Consolidated.

Did you ever think that they might not want to be acquired? Phoenix-Lite is another optical startup that is winging it without the thought of getting acquired. Some companies want to get their own bang out of running things for as long as they can. They have folks signed up for product but are unfortunately not in a position to deliver as of yet..."hope springs eternal"
bb55 12/5/2012 | 3:28:41 AM
re: Micro MSPPs Are Big Although those guys get some significant funding few years back, they are burning through those fast. I don't believe that their sales in last 2 years support operational costs with any significancy.
The aggrement with Tellabs could be just a cooperation aggrement (ie. Movaz with Lucent and Motorola). Tellabs simply uses WR to get into customers' accounts and win more DSC sales. If the box was so wonderful, WR would be picked up by now.
Remember that the box is based on 4-5 years old technology. All the new uMSPP contenders will have much more advanced, flexible and economical boxes.
Liberty Valence 12/5/2012 | 3:28:40 AM
re: Micro MSPPs Are Big Do you mean that the Indian PTT, which needs to deploys massive E1 connections for public switches is really interested in those boxes ? hum...
Viewpoint 12/5/2012 | 3:28:37 AM
re: Micro MSPPs Are Big The American MSPP vendors don't have cost structure that BSNL will demand. BSNL is not going to buy in quantities that will make American MSPPs profitable. More likely beneficiaries of BSNL build out would be Indian vendors like Tejas, low cost Chinese vendors and the big telecom vendors like Siemens, Cisco, Alcatel.
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