Optical/IP Networks

Redback's Got an Itsy-Bitsy B-RAS

Is Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK) positioning itself to make a play for the enterprise market?

The question is worth considering as sources close to the company reveal its next new product: the SmartEdge 200, a smaller edge router and broadband remote access server that's meant to compete with Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) 7200 series routers and Juniper Networks Inc.'s (Nasdaq: JNPR) ERX 310 routers.

The SE200 is just what it sounds like: a smaller platform to address applications where the SmartEdge 400 and SmartEdge 800 routers and service gateways are too large or too expensive. Like its brethren, sources say, the SE200 will provide IP routing, ATM mediation, MPLS VPNs, multicast, and quality of service (QOS). Sources say the device is due to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year.

The new box will be initially aimed at service providers, especially in situations where advanced services are still needed but subscriber numbers aren't dense enough to justify a large- or medium-sized platform. The SE200, in fact, can be collocated with DLCs and DSLAMs to provide B-RAS services.

Sources close to one interexchange carrier say Redback is aiming to keep the SE200 at about 4 rack units tall, 19 inches wide, and 18 inches deep. In that small space, Redback is aiming to support 16,000 subscribers on the device. It is also likely that, like the other SmartEdge platforms, the SE200 chassis will support linecards from the SE800, the sources say.

This new platform makes sense for Redback for several reasons. First of all, sources say the company is phasing out its aging Subscriber Management System (SMS) 500 product which, in 1999, was priced near $30,000 and only supported about 1,000 concurrent subscribers. The SE200 would fill in nicely for the SMS 500, while giving Redback a value-priced edge router to lure a wider set of customers.

That wider set, eventually, will include the enterprise market, sources close to Redback say. Besides being a value play, the SE200, at some point, may be marketed as a wide area network (WAN) edge device for enterprises needing to aggregate multiple branch offices or remote locations.

Redback isn't the only vendor shrinking the B-RAS in order to bring advanced services closer to the subscriber. Laurel Networks Inc. announced this week that it has developed the ST50, a shrunken version of its ST200 box. The ST50 supports 32,000 sessions versus the ST200's 128,000 supported sessions.

Light Reading contacted Redback for this article, but the company said it couldn't comment.

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

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