Routers Are Winning the MPLS War
The ponytails – the folk in charge of IP networks within carriers – appear to be winning the argument over whether routers or multiservice switches should be used to build converged MPLS backbones, according to market statistics released by Infonetics Research Inc. earlier this week (see Service Provider Routers, Switches Up in Q4).
In the past year, there's been a "dramatic" swing towards the use of routers rather than multiservice switches, reports Infonetics. In 2002, the ratio was 56 percent routers to 44 percent multiservice switches. In 2003, this shifted to 63 percent routers, 37 percent multiservice switches.
Probably making life difficult for Infonetics is that fact that the difference between routers and multiservice switches is blurring – so much so that some vendors now call their equipment "switch/routers."
While the overall picture is good news for the router market, some vendors are benefitting more than others, according to recent statistics from Synergy Research Group Inc. (see Synergy: Router Market Up 1% in Q4).
Table 1: Edge Routers: U.S. Market Share by Revenue
|Source: Synergy Research Group Inc.|
Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) appears to be the big winner, boosting its share of the U.S. edge-router market to 21.3 percent last year from 13.8 percent the year before. Juniper's acquisition of Unisphere's router business in July 2002 appears to have helped. Together in 2003, they've proved to be greater than the sum of their parts in 2002.
Some of Juniper's extra oomph probably also came from resale agreements with Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), and Siemens Information and Communications Networks Inc. Siemens says that it now accounts for 20 percent of Juniper's sales (see Siemens Jumps for Juniper). Lucent and Nortel don't sell anything like this volume, judging by Synergy's figures.
It's worth noting that Riverstone Networks Inc. more than doubled its market share last year, moving from a mere 1.3 percent in 2002 to 3.3 percent in 2003. This ties in with comments made by one of its customers, the U.K.'s Exponential-e Ltd. Its managing director, Lee Wade, told Light Reading recently that Riverstone had the best MPLS story in 2002, but added that other vendors had caught up since then (see Exponential-e: What Yipes Wasn't).
Wade said he was particularly impressed with the way Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) had improved its MPLS story, but added: "Cisco won't talk to us, because we've got a Riverstone network."
Maybe that explains why Cisco's market share shrunk a little in 2003?
— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading