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Redback's Got a Mini-Me, Too

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
1/30/2001

Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK) has turned up the heat on rival Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) with the announcement of the SmartEdge100.

The product is a smaller version of its Sonet add-drop multiplexer, the SmartEdge 800, which allows carriers to consolidate various optical and electrical bandwidth connections in metropolitan networks. In the future, Redback plans to add IP service capabilities.

Redback’s announcement comes two weeks after Light Reading reported that Cisco also plans to introduce a mini-version of its ONS 15454, the ONS 15327, on January 31, 2001 (see Cisco Hatches Cerent 'Mini Me'). Cisco's 15454 product is widely considered the leading product in its category and represents Cisco's fastest-growing optical product line.

“They’re definitely the two leading contenders in this market,” says Tim Savageaux, an infrastructure analyst with W.R. Hambrecht & Co.. “And it looks like Redback is ready for a fist fight in terms of gaining a larger foot print.”

The two companies have been jockeying for market share in the metro network since Redback first started selling its SmartEdge Sonet add-drop multiplexer back in May 2000 (see Redback Unveils Siara Product). While the SmartEdge 800 and the ONS 15454 are designed to ease congestion between the optical backbone and the copper telephone networks within larger central offices and colocation facilities, the smaller versions are designed to extend that bandwidth to smaller telco facilities and office buildings. They also cost less.

Cisco has capitalized on its first-mover advantage in the market, but Redback has still managed to win several key accounts. Just yesterday Redback announced its biggest deal yet, a two-year $120 million contract with Williams Communications Group (NYSE: WCG) (see Redback Lands Deal With Williams ). Other customers include Cable and Wireless (NYSE: CWP), Genuity Inc. (Nasdaq: GENU), and Qwest Communications International Corp. (NYSE: Q).

The Cisco and Redback versions share some characteristics. For one thing, they are the same size -- three telco rack units high (one rack unit is 1.75 inches), 19 inches wide, and 12 inches deep. And they both aggregate multiple traffic types, including TDM (DS1 and DS3), data (10/100-Mbit/s Ethernet), and optical (OC3, OC12, and OC48).

But Redback says that the SM100 offers three times the density that Cisco’s ONS 15327 offers, with eight OC48 (2.5 Gbit/s), 16 OC12 (622 Mbit/s), and 32 OC3 (155 Mbit/s) interfaces. This is an important issue, especially for smaller colocation facilities and multitenant buildings where space is tight and expensive to lease.

Several other companies, including Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Fujitsu Ltd. (KLS: FUJI.KL), also compete in this area. And the competition could get even more intense as players like Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) and Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR) ramp up efforts for metropolitan edge network gear.

But right now, Redback doesn’t seem too worried about anyone other than Cisco.

“When we’re in with customers all we see is Cisco, Cisco, and Cisco,” says Larry Blair, Redback’s vice president for marketing. “Cyras Systems Inc. is a distant third, for sure, and with the Ciena acquisition they’ll get a broader customer base, but in the end it boils down to Cisco and us.”

Can Redback succeed in eating into more Cisco market share? Some say yes.

“Considering that others have successfully battled Cisco in their true area of expertise, there’s no reason to think that they are invincible in this market that is just now emerging,” says Hambrecht's Savageaux.

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

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lightreceding
lightreceding
12/4/2012 | 11:29:16 PM
re: Redback's Got a Mini-Me, Too
Merlin built the SE 100. They were spun in to Redback. Then Redback killed the SE 100 after building a few test units, which showed up on eBay some time later. The SE 100 was preannounced to coinside with the Cisco 15327 announcement.
lightreceding
lightreceding
12/4/2012 | 11:29:16 PM
re: Redback's Got a Mini-Me, Too
And now their solution is dead since Redback killed it and laid everybody off. How fortunes change. From secret weapon to corpse in such a short time.
Shareholdervalue
Shareholdervalue
12/4/2012 | 8:58:26 PM
re: Redback's Got a Mini-Me, Too
All of the issues associated with the ability to provision services on demand make it quite a feat, but I think Abatis has nailed this problem, and Redback was smart enough to see it. Expect more good news from them.
x1797
x1797
12/4/2012 | 8:58:26 PM
re: Redback's Got a Mini-Me, Too
Astral Point is competing as well with the ON2000. This was mentioned in a previous LR article.

X1797
Tudy
Tudy
12/4/2012 | 8:58:23 PM
re: Redback's Got a Mini-Me, Too
What does the abatis purchase allow redback to do? Does it give them a box more like ellacoya's box? There is a lot of clamoring that ellacoya's box will be the one to beat. Also how will these boxes stack up against the cosine and nortel(shasta) boxes.

Thanks
BBBoa
BBBoa
12/4/2012 | 8:58:21 PM
re: Redback's Got a Mini-Me, Too
This really isn't Astral Point's space. Cerent, Redback and Cyras have an underlying Sonet fabric that allow them to make efficient use of the traditional VT1.5s and STSs to support next generation applications. In addition, they have their own ASICs that allow them to do Layer 2/3 switching and routing.

Astral Point makes an ATM switch with similar interfaces, but over an ATM fabric. No ASICs and certainly no Layer 3 capabilities. At lower port speeds the ATM fabric is useful, however once you get to the OC-48 level and above, the overhead (10 to 15%) becomes quite wasteful.
Shareholdervalue
Shareholdervalue
12/4/2012 | 8:58:20 PM
re: Redback's Got a Mini-Me, Too
Abatis is a network service contractor. This means it can intelligently create profitable end-to-end services across any hardware infrastructure, and integrate with billing systems, etc. This type of product almost makes interoperability a no-brainer.

Any solution that is a "box" can never do this completely, because it's limited to an architecture that includes that box. In some ways, its too bad that Abatis was bought, because now thier solution is also limited to Redback's boxes.

x1797
x1797
12/4/2012 | 8:58:19 PM
re: Redback's Got a Mini-Me, Too
http://www.astralpoint.com/web...

... Looks like they compete to me ...
William Wallace
William Wallace
12/4/2012 | 8:58:18 PM
re: Redback's Got a Mini-Me, Too
<have 2="" 3="" addition,="" allow="" an="" and="" applications.="" asics="" do="" efficient="" fabric="" generation="" have="" in="" layer="" make="" next="" of="" own="" routing.="" sonet="" stss="" support="" switching="" that="" the="" their="" them="" they="" to="" traditional="" underlying="" use="" vt1.5s="">

BBBoa, what are you talking about? - did you ever learn the OSI model networking kindygarten? - sonet is L1.....not L2/L3 - the trio of Cerent, Redback and Cyras are L1 devices - sonet fabric inside means L1 inside - redback has plans to deliver L3-capable cards, but not for a while
</have>
chuckjr
chuckjr
12/4/2012 | 8:58:17 PM
re: Redback's Got a Mini-Me, Too
How tall is the 15454?
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