Volpi: In the true core, there are some very important drivers. One is the continued improvement in the capacity of the devices and density and scaleability. The second key factor in the core is Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and the ability to sell a core MPLS offering.
The big spenders of the next few years are going to be RBOCs and PTTs, both of which come from the circuit heritage and will use MPLS to coverge their cores.
Still in the core, but a little further toward the edge, a lot of Layer 2 functionality will be quite important. The routers will be increasingly taking the place of things like Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) switches and frame switches. Things like virtual routing are important, but not until you get a little more toward the edge.
One piece that's also very important in core router development is investment protection. We've got a lot of GSRs out there. Customers don't have a lot of money. They're going to want to upgrade as opposed to forklift. So we think that's an important trend. We are spending a lot of our development cycles trying to make sure you can do investment protection with the installed base.
Light Reading: Are you saying the growth in the core market will come from the RBOCs and PTTs?
Volpi: I wouldn’t say that. My point was that RBOCs and PTTs are going to be big spenders. But not to the exclusion of interexchange carriers and MSOs.
Light Reading: But you think the growth is predicated on MPLS adoption.
Volpi: For the RBOCs and PTTs? Absolutely.
Light Reading: When do you think that's going to happen?
Volpi: I think it's happening now. There are RFPs that are out there for converged cores from the RBOCs. They're out there and, while unannounced, at least two of them have picked their core winners.
Light Reading: Are they unannounced? BellSouth Corp. announced.
Volpi: BellSouth didn't announce. Juniper announced. [See Juniper's Good News Fails to Impress.]
Light Reading: (Light Laughter) Volpi: Well, there are other RBOCs. And, hopefully, we can win that one back.
So, MPLS is very important and, in routing, I do believe that the remaining interexchange carriers, Sprint Corp. and AT&T Corp., will spend some money on core routers. They do have an opportunity right now given the situation at WorldCom Inc. There is a flight to quality or a concern on the part of enterprise customers about the future of WorldCom; and a number of them have switched or are considering switching to other carriers. And right now if you want a full national footprint, AT&T and Sprint are the natural candidates – so they are benefiting from that and, as a result, they're spending some on routers.
[Ed. note: WorldCom is a Juniper customer, in case you were wondering.]