Riverstone Goes Dense

ATLANTA -- Supercomm 2001 -- Riverstone Networks (Nasdaq: RSTN) plans to announce a new switch router at the Supercomm 2001 trade show today.

The new box, the RS16000, packs four times as many gigabit Ethernet ports into the same size chassis as Riverstone's current flagship product, the RS8000. And for the metro service providers targeted by Riverstone, that space saving translates into significant reductions in colocation costs.

Density is crucial to metro service providers because they generally lease colocation space from incumbent carriers. While the incumbents are required to share the space with competitive providers, they charge a premium for the space they give up, according to Andrew Feldman, vice president of marketing for Riverstone. A typical telco cage in a colocation facility that is about 10 feet by 10 feet could cost up to $1000 per month, says Feldman.

That rental fee doesn’t include initial power supply, backup power supply, or managed services like firewalling, he adds. These additional features can run as high as $9,000 a month.

Riverstone’s customers agree that power consumption and rental space account for a large portion of their recurring operating costs. And packing more ports into a smaller area is key to keeping those costs down, says Vipin Jain, vice president of systems engineering for Telseon, a service provider that uses both the RS8000 from Riverstone and switching products from Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY). He says Telseon’s initial assessment of the RS16000 shows that the provider could save as much as 50 percent on its power consumption costs.

He also adds that denser products are needed to allow for network expansions, noting that in some urban areas like New York, Chicago, or San Francisco, carriers are running out of space to lease.

“In some places it is almost impossible to get more rack space,” he says. “The only option is to go with higher density equipment.”

How dense is the RS16000? It supports 60 gigabit Ethernet ports in a box that is 8.75 inches or five rack units high (one rack unit takes up about 1.75 inches). This means that a provider could stack nine boxes on top of each other to fill a standard telco rack and end up with a total of 540 gigabit Ethernet ports.

This is impressive, considering what Riverstone’s competitors are offering. Cisco Systems Inc.’s (Nasdaq: CSCO) 6509 is the closest in density. According to the data sheet published on the company’s Website, the chassis is about 25.2 inches high, and supports up to 130 gigabit Ethernet ports per chassis. That means that in a 7-foot or 84-inch rack, it supports up to 390 gigabit Ethernet ports.

The BigIron 15000 from Foundry supports roughly 240 gigabit Ethernet ports per 7-foot rack, according to the specification sheet on its Website. And information listed on the Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) Website indicates that the Black Diamond 6816 supports 192 gigabit Ethernet ports per rack.

What’s more, the RS16000 supports the same features and functionality that the RS8000 supports, including key routing protocols like BGP-4, OSPF, and MPLS (multiprotocol label switching), a tagging protocol that facilitates virtual private networking (VPN) and traffic engineering.

It also supports the spacial reuse protocol (SRP), a Cisco-inspired proprietary technology that's being promoted for the proposed resilient packet ring standard (see Cisco's Resilient Ring Gets a Boost).

The RS16000 will also support future features in the RS product family like new 10-gigabit Ethernet uplinks, which are expected to ship in the third quarter of this year, and support for coarse wavelength-division multiplexing (CWDM).

The RS16000 will be generally available in July of this year. It is currently in beta trials, says Feldman.

- Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading

For more information on Supercomm 2001, please visit the Light Reading Supercomm 2001 Site.

flanker 12/4/2012 | 8:19:11 PM
re: Riverstone Goes Dense I think a rack might cost about $700 per month. A 10ft by 10ft cage must cost substantially more than that, possibly $3k to $10k per month, depending on security.
testbot 12/4/2012 | 8:11:44 PM
re: Riverstone Goes Dense It's a travesty to integrity that Light Reading posts pro forma EPS numbers for something like RSTN. They should at least put up the GAAP numbers for us to check. The Pro Forma could be ANYTHING! They are NOT audited or SEC compliant.

FYI: First Call estimates on RSTN were EPS (.05) vs. EPS (.03) delivered.
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