Optical/IP Networks

Router Vendors Look To Linux

Another MRV Communications vendor says it has the answer. Zuma Networks Inc. http://www.zumanetworks.com is also developing a Linux router, but with a twist. It's using a combination of Linux with its own proprietary routing operating system. The Zuma-developed OS handles routing functions, while Linux runs on top of the proprietary OS. This still allows users to add capabilities through Linux's open architecture, but without sacrificing scalability, the vendor claims.

"The reason we are doing it this way is that the Linux kernel is pretty complicated," says Todd Rope CTO for Zuma. "And because we have a history with routing software, we felt we could find a way take advantage of the benefits of Linux without losing anything in the performance." The idea of basing the entire routing code on Linux is "self-defeating," adds Rope. "Nbase, one of our counterparts, is also using Linux to create an open system, but they are moving along slowly," he says. "It's difficult to use Linux alone because it was designed for a PC with NIC cards, and a router doesn't function the same way."

Even with this new concept of using two operating systems, the Zuma box may not scale to carrier class. The first release will be geared toward the enterprise -- with service provider versions expected sometime in the future. Zuma's Linux router should be in beta tests by Q3 of this year and it will be commercially available in Q1 2001.

The bottom line: service providers still have a while to wait for a viable Linux routing solution.

--Marguerite Reardon, senior editor, Light Reading


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