Riverstone Enters Edge Fray
The idea is that these routers will connect Layer 2 traffic -- Ethernet, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), Frame Relay -- and brush it up for transport across a unified IP/MPLS core. But for now, Riverstone's focused on Ethernet, and has eschewed other interfaces.
Between newly introduced systems and acquired startups, competitors in this area include Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN), Hammerhead Systems Inc., Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR), Laurel Networks Inc., Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), and Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA). Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) participates as well, but with older systems: the 7600, 10000, and 12000 router lines.
Approaches differ, with Juniper and Nortel taking a Layer 3 focus, for instance, while Ciena and Hammerhead concentrate more on Layer 2. Riverstone adds a new twist to the Layer 2 side, as the 15008 focuses on an Ethernet future rather than an ATM/Frame Relay past.
"It's really focused on Ethernet services, which are going to be the area of highest growth," says Sathya Narayanaswamy, Riverstone director of marketing.
Riverstone is painting the 15008 as a high-end platform for the multiservice edge. "It is really for aggregating traffic into the core of the network. People are going towards 10-Gbit/s trunking into the core, which is really the first application for this," Narayanaswamy says.
But the exclusive focus on routing and Ethernet may have some wondering where to find the "multi" in multiservice edge. The product lacks Frame Relay and ATM interfaces -- it's only got Ethernet interfaces.
Specifically, the 15008 will come with only Gigabit Ethernet and 10-Gbit/s Ethernet interfaces at first. Most competitors offer ATM interfaces as an option, because their boxes target older networks.
It's no surprise to see Riverstone taking an Ethernet approach to the multiservice edge, as the company has pegged its comeback to Layer 2 Ethernet. Scandal socked Riverstone last year, as the company fell under a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation and overhauled its executive slate (see SEC Calls on Riverstone, Riverstone Founders Resign, and Riverstone Begins New Chapter). CEO Oscar Rodriguez is trying to right the ship this year, focusing on Ethernet, MPLS, and VPLS on the product side. Riverstone also plans to have a presence at Supercomm later this month.
Still, Riverstone's strategy contradicts the thinking of most other vendors. Companies such as Nortel have produced new systems for the edge, insisting that the multiservice job calls for a newly built platform combining the ATM and IP worlds (see Nortel's Neptune Surfaces, Neptune Arrives).
The 15008 will eventually have ATM and Frame Relay interfaces, but Riverstone officials aren't giving a timeline.
The 15008 sports a new, modular operating system but uses the same routing stack as the RS, and it borrows some of the RS's Ethernet features, such as loop detection. Riverstone does plan to add Layer 3 services to the 15008, including virtual private network (VPN) support as defined by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) RFC 2547.
The 15008 is an eight-slot chassis fitting one third of a seven-foot rack. Its switch fabric has a total capacity of 192 Gbit/s.
The 15008 is in trials including one with T-Systems Inc. and German research network Deutsches Forschungsnetz. General availability is slated for the fall.
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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