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NetPlane Opens Up IP Routing

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
1/29/2001

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- NetPlane Systems, a supplier of portable networking protocol software and systems, announced today that it's shipping the first release of OPTIRoute, a software suite that includes the building blocks for IP (Internet protocol) routing code.

The company has yet to reveal who its customers are, but the announcement comes at an interesting time. Nortel Networks Corp. appears to be scaling back its Open IP business, at a time when the number of hardware startups in search of open IP code is exploding.

If past experience is any indication of how trustworthy NetPlane is and how well its software sells, then it should be in good shape. NetPlane, which used to be called Harris & Jeffries, has gained an excellent reputation selling its multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) source code, according to David Newman, president of Network Test.

Now the company is taking the next logical step and moving up the protocol stack to provide Layer 3 IP routing source code. In its first release the suite includes OSPF (open shortest path first); it will release BGP4 (border gateway protocol), IS-IS (intermediate system to intermediate system) protocol, and RIPv2 (routing information protocol) later in 2001.

NetPlane’s timing couldn’t be better. Why? First, any routing company will confess that software is the hardest part of the product development cycle. For example, it took Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR), which built its code from scratch, two years to construct software stable enough to be deployed in commercial networks. And Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), the granddaddy of routing, is still refining and releasing new versions of its IOS routing software.

At the same time, Netplane's number one competitor looks like it might be bowing out of the game. Nortel, which has been licensing a source code called Open IP to other vendors, recently dissolved the engineering group working on the software. Some of the engineers working on Open IP were among the 4,000 employees that Nortel laid off last week, though the company would not specify how many from the group lost their jobs and how many were shifted to other groups within the company (see Nortel to Cut 4,000 Jobs). The plan going forward is to use the technology in 3G wireless products, says a spokesperson.

Many startups such as Avici Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: AVCI; Frankfurt: BVC7), Pluris Inc., and Hyperchip Inc., as well as established vendors like Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA: Paris: CGEP:PA) and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), have looked toward third parties to provide them with the essential building blocks (see Hyperchip Hypes Its Hardware). With IP routing systems proliferating, the demand for reliable source code is high.

But routing purists point out that using generic routing code from a third-party vendor could weaken a company's ability to differentiate its software from competitors.

-- Marguerite Reardon, senior editor, Light Reading, http://www.lightreading.com

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Scott Raynovich
Scott Raynovich
12/4/2012 | 8:58:38 PM
re: NetPlane Opens Up IP Routing
I'm wondering how good a business open-source IP routing could be, especially if Nortel is supposedly less interested. Any ideas?
chechaco
chechaco
12/4/2012 | 8:58:37 PM
re: NetPlane Opens Up IP Routing
Have you forgot NextHop, a.k.a. GateD? It's installed base is enormous comparing to one of NetPlane or even Nortel, a.k.a. Phase2Net. Juniper's IP routing code came from GateD as well as many other successfull start-ups.
iptwister
iptwister
12/4/2012 | 8:58:37 PM
re: NetPlane Opens Up IP Routing
One should note that IENG, a formerly independant for-hire software company, was adept at maturing gated (kinda sorta public domainish), and was acquired by CSCO for something like $12MM.

There was speculation about how CSCO's acquisition of IENG hurt other HW companies as they now lacked a SW vendor. Perhaps these folks help to fill that void.
PBC
PBC
12/4/2012 | 8:58:20 PM
re: NetPlane Opens Up IP Routing

It seems to be a business that is only getting better, if your stacks are well engineered (allowing them to move freely across operating systems as well as CPU architecture). Trillium, NetPlane, Telenetworks, Spider are a few of the strong ones..

For a company developing networking gear. The sheer cost in terms of sw manpower is incredible to develop. Stacks, although very expensive in some cases, allows these system developers to get off the shelf ATM/IP/MPLS/SS7...etc... software

I see stacks being of appeal to Large and small organizations, when you look at it, whether Lucent/Cisco/Nortel use acommercial stack in a product line or whether a stratup uses it in their one and only product line, almost the same thing.....except that Lucent/Cisco/Nortel will complain tyhat its not as well developed as their in house stacks :-)

The main reason that companies like Cisco and Nortel and not really successful moving into the stack licensing business, is that its almost like starting a sw company from scratch, you have to be quick and responsive ...ever try to put sneakers on an elephant...:-)

karlkole
karlkole
12/4/2012 | 8:57:25 PM
re: NetPlane Opens Up IP Routing
We all know by now that the software that goes into these terabit routers are absolutely crucial.
Can it be that they still have not developed a stable MPLS software package for the GSR 12000?
This is the same problem that caused Foundry Networks to flop in their attempt to enter the core router business after they claimed that their BigIron 1500 would destroy the M160 & GSR 12000 last May.
The link below concerns a semiconductor co. called Virata (VRTA). They possess MPLS software & Cisco is liscensing some of their software.

http://www.virata.com/cgi-bin/...
skipsmith42
skipsmith42
12/4/2012 | 8:57:24 PM
re: NetPlane Opens Up IP Routing
Dude, put the pipe down.

MPLS TE has nothing to do with linecards,
and, furthermore, Cisco's MPLS implementation
works at least as well as the rest of their
software (take from that what you will.)
go_csco
go_csco
12/4/2012 | 8:57:24 PM
re: NetPlane Opens Up IP Routing
Dude,

Physical line cards have nothing to do with MPLS.
Cisco is a pioneer in MPLS development.

Having worked personally with Cisco's MPLS on the GSR and other platforms, I can assure you it works well.

go_csco!!!
karlkole
karlkole
12/4/2012 | 8:57:16 PM
re: NetPlane Opens Up IP Routing
If Cisco's software is so good as you say, then why does it have so many versions of their IOS out there?
Maybe I'm wrong, but didn't Cisco announce last year that their stuff will work with Juniper's software?
froggy
froggy
12/4/2012 | 8:57:15 PM
re: NetPlane Opens Up IP Routing
karlkole,

SW is not that difficult for a core router, you can buy off-the shelf solid routing and MPLS stacks. The tough part is the switching fabric and the IP forwarding chip running at 10G.
This is why JNPR kicked CSCO's butt
karlkole
karlkole
12/4/2012 | 8:57:15 PM
re: NetPlane Opens Up IP Routing
Since it's the software that's the most difficult part in developing a core router, that was my logical assumption.
If the software is not the problem, then what could possibly be holding up the GSR 12000?
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