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Routing

Alcatel Router Revenues Surge

(NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) has some numbers to back up the success it's claiming in edge routing, as the company plans to announce today that its market share surged in the third quarter.

Figures from Synergy Research Group Inc. show Alcatel's 7750 and 7450 models collected $88.8 million in revenues during the third quarter, up from roughly $35 million in the second quarter.

Yes, sales more than doubled in three months.

"That shocked a lot of people," says Ray Mota, the Synergy analyst behind the report. Mota queried some major carriers, though, and he says they're backing up the numbers.

"It's not a spike," asserts Basil Alwan, president of Alcatel's IP division. "This was the decisive quarter to the point where we are a head-on challenger" to (Nasdaq: CSCO) and (Nasdaq: JNPR), he says.

What has Alcatel particularly jazzed is that it took second place in Synergy's "IP edge aggregation routing" category, with 23.6 percent market share in the third quarter -- surpassing Juniper's 19.7 percent but still trailing Cisco's 45.9 percent. (See Alcatel Seizes #2 Position.) Alcatel's IP edge routing market share stood at just 3.1 percent after the first quarter of 2005.

But Juniper notes some extenuating circumstances. In the third quarter, Juniper's M7i and M10i routers were taken out of the service provider category and into the high-end enterprise category. So Alcatel's bump in revenues was accompanied by a decline in what Juniper was reporting: "We moved a substantial amount of revenue out of that category," a Juniper spokeswoman says.

She notes that Synergy still ranks Juniper second in all service provider edge routing, a superset of the IP edge category. Service provider edge routing in the third quarter was led by Cisco with a 48 percent share, followed by Juniper's 27 percent and Alcatel at roughly 14 percent, she says.

Note, also, that the numbers can be sliced up any number of ways. Alcatel's 7450 is an Ethernet box lacking full IP routing functionality. So some might argue it's not suitable for any "IP" category, although it's often sold in tandem with the 7750.

Even with such caveats, the numbers suggest Alcatel's IP division, launched after the TiMetra acquisition, has kicked into gear. Alwan claims the 7750 and 7450 have racked up 90 customers, 50 of them announced, with wins including (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), (NYSE: CHA), and (NYSE: SBC). (See Alcatel Picked for BT's 21CN, Alcatel Wins China Telecom Deal, and Scaling IPTV: Progress at SBC .)

Alcatel and Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK) both appear to be on the rise in the broadband edge, says Heavy Reading analyst Rick Thompson. (See How Redback Won BellSouth.) Alcatel's port density and the integration of policy management have helped it in the video market, in particular, he notes.

Alcatel's recent strength in IPTV wins might have been a factor in Cisco's decision to acquire Scientific-Atlanta Inc. (NYSE: SFA), a move that could boost Cisco's prospects in service-provider video. (See Sci-Atlanta: Cisco's IPTV Lifeline?.) But Alcatel officials note that triple play wins account for only half their router revenues, implying the 7750 has proven attractive in normal routing cases as well.

Alcatel may have to work hard to maintain its presence in the IP edge. "That space is extremely challenging," Mota says. "They have to stay innovative, like Juniper in its earlier days."

Alcatel is trying. The company has been adding software features to the platforms and has increased Layer 2 support on the 7750. (See Alcatel Adds to MSE , Alcatel Enhances IP Tech, and Alcatel Taps Layer 2.)

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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desiEngineer 12/5/2012 | 2:52:01 AM
re: Alcatel Router Revenues Surge Mark,

That's a heckuva long post. I'll try and dissect it.

MS: 1) you are suggesting (intentionally or not) that because the IGP development has been done for MPLS then the hard work of building a IPv4 router is complete.

Yes. In a sense, I question that a box has to run BGP to be a router. Or PIM (as one earlier post suggested, a router must support multicast routing).

Take classical MPLS. After the hard work of digesting an IGP is completed, that forwarding state is captured in a next-hop label forwarding entry for a FEC. That's just geek for a bunch of routes map to a next-hop, and here's my shorthand for that route: it's a label.

MS: 2) that the control plane is tightly coupled with the data plane.

I don't care that a control plane uses the dataplane. That only means protocols run inline with data. That doesn't define routing.

The control plane drives the data plane actions.

I don't quite know what to do with this point. It doesn't refute or relate to anything I said.

MS: 3) that the scenario you describe is analagous to what you wish to contrast it with (i.e. what is good for the goose is good for the gander)

So we come to the nub of the question. MPLS, and in particular, the various applications of MPLS, cause a bit of a problem. They don't look like hop-by-hop forwarding, the way IP does things, with RSVP being semi-connection oriented, and PWs creating these strange edge boxes that use routing protocols to do switching functions.

I think GMPLS LSRs are routers. I think looking at the control plane information of an aggregate network topology, and then determining the forwarding path of traffic based on that information is routing.

Ethernet switches run multi-node control plane protocols, and aggregate that knowledge into a topological structure, a spanning tree. But they forward based on local knowledge of incoming and outgoing ports, VLAN contexts, and MAC address learning. That's very different.

Here's another example: PNNI based SVCs vs. PVC = routing vs. switching.

If you wire up a cross-connect with local information, that's switching. If you wire it up with some aggregation of information derived from distribution of topological information via a control protocol, that's routing.

That's my perspective.

BTW, other defintions of routing exist: in laying down streets, wiring, components; in other protocols, e.g., connection-oriented SNA, XNS, DECnet. I think they fall closer to my generalized definition of a router.

-desi
lightwait 12/5/2012 | 2:52:02 AM
re: Alcatel Router Revenues Surge Well, if area codes should be used for IP
let's have local number portability for IP!
Imagine moving your IP address from Sprint to SBC.
(was that thud a BGP guy fainting?)
...all in jest.

Whatever you want to call them, the 7x50's are selling.
Mark Seery 12/5/2012 | 2:52:02 AM
re: Alcatel Router Revenues Surge >> Forget about what you call the edge box. Why do you call the core box a Router?

(a) Because it could do BGP?
(b) Because it is a cisco or juniper box?
(c) Because it is completely dependent on IP routing protocols to do what it does?
(d) You fill this in so it isn't like I rigged this question to have only those 3 answers.

Personally, I think the answer is (c).<<

Desi,

When you select (c) you touch on three different issues all at once.

1) you are suggesting (intentionally or not) that because the IGP development has been done for MPLS then the hard work of building a IPv4 router is complete

We could argue about the nuances of that for the next 10 years, so I will make things simple and just concede the point (for certain applications).

2) that the control plane is tightly coupled with the data plane.

this would probably take another 50 messages to thrash out, but let me just say I don't believe the control plane has anything "technically" to do with the data plane, other than it has to produce information that supports dataplane actions.
most people don't even recognize that a control plane uses a data plane, this is how separate they are (with the exception of design assumptions that are made, that perhaps should not be - and are generally found not to be irreversible)

please note for example:

http://www.postel.org/rbridge/...
http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc119...

also note discussions on the CCAMP WG concluding that GMPLS can support an out of band control plane, which by definition infers the data plane used by the control plane need not necessarily be IP-based (assumptions by control plane implementers not withstanding), and that the control plane could itself be any protocol (observing which you might ask why did it take so long for this to be acknowledged if "techies" never "fuzzy" issues as someone else claimed).

3) that the scenario you describe is analagous to what you wish to contrast it with (i.e. what is good for the goose is good for the gander)

technically what you describe is an (MPLS) label switch (by common usage of the term switch, and by the IETF's inference by selecting the term "LSR"). this comes more from an examination of the dataplane than of the control plane (IMO). Though of course the control plane constructs the forwarding table for the data plane - it is the semantics of the address in the label that would lead most people to conclude that this is not a connectionless address format (with most common usages of MPLS) and therefore, in the context of WAN applications, most likely to lead to the assessment that this is a switching function. also by common definition of a switch operating at either layer 2, or not layer 3 (where "layer 3" is considered to be IP - remembering that the OSI model is most applicable to end stations, and not very robust when it comes to describing what happens below "layer 3" at intermediate nodes). So technically, if such products only ever switched MPLS labelled packets, the case would be strong for putting those products you refer to into a segment called something like "core MPLS switch" (and who knows, that may indeed happen one day - and you would be wrong if you thought I had not had that conversation already)

but my answer to your question is d) (note I am not suggesting you rigged it).

when Juniper entered the market with the M40 it was used in a very limited way. if an analyst had observed that, and therefore put it in a different category, some number of months later that analyst would have looked like an idiot (remembering many analyst work on a 12 month research agenda as a courtesy to their clients - though it probably does not feel that way at the moment!). the juniper M40 market entry is analagous to the CRS-1 market entry because the CRS-1 is a new software and hardware technology base

in both cases we can examine the positioning of the products (application and pricing), and the intent of the companies selling those products (to add or remove function), and what the customer believes they are buying and what they are buying it for (not only today, but sometime in the future). Based on this, we can make an educated guess about where that product should be positioned. we can also ask what is the majority case. BGP4 free core is happening more. is it the majority case over the next 12 months? will an overwhelming number of packets that are processed by a core router be MPLS labelled over the next 12 months? are these products used by a broad range of ISPs and carriers? are these products used for other things / what is the expectation of the customer in terms of being able to migrate it to the edge in the future? what about carriers and ISPs that need to do IPv6 routing - what platforms are they using? and lastly of course is the capabilities of the product - which is of course your point.

the situation you are referring to is a company coming to market with a feature deficient product and then enhancing it over time. this is not an analagous situation to the one you wish to contrast it with. But I won't elaborate any further because I did not get on this message board to bash anyone, but to simply have a conversation about what a switch is and what router is. Given the contrasted scenario, the market place has some questions and is asking them. This is healthy, normal, unavoidable, and necessary. That said, this conversation has been occuring behind the scenes for a number of months, and I think most people (that are directly effected) have already moved on, with the exception of those still scratching their heads about what are the right "terms" to use are - which while technically challenging (if you want to put it in terms of this is a router or a switch) is not so challenging if you want to put it in terms of application usage and focus. the bottom line is that carriers have a certain amount of money to spend, and xyz company is getting so much, and abc is getting something else - this truly is the bottom line. everything else we do is just a tool (one of many - but perhaps the most visible) to try and create insights in to what is happening in the market place. from time to time, those tools need to be refined.

feel free to contact me offline if you want to discuss those things I am not willing to elaborate on here. i have a feeling from the question you asked you know how to contact me, or know someone who does.

p.s. this thread has been mostly about "terms". I have argued that such terms need to be analyzed from multiple perspectives. but if you are interested in using the term "router", you might want to check with the body that popularized the term, with how they would name various devices: http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc402... . these products *are* LSRs and LERs, the question being debated is are they more LS than IP_Rs, and more PE-S than PE-R (in terms of how they are actually being used in networks). I think the market knows what the answer is today - and even if the answer is PE-S, then you have to strategically consider the platform that it is being delivered on. How such platforms will be used in the future, is by definition unknowable - but based on other tools/research, you might for example feel you can make an educated guess if you are looking out 12+ months - as an example (starting of course by an examination of the totallity of the ways they are being used today). Only time will tell if that guess is right or wrong. While you are letting that "technology" guess ride, you can have a different conversation about application usage.
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 2:52:07 AM
re: Alcatel Router Revenues Surge 3. Since the internet has grown organically from many competing providers, the topology is hierarchical on a per provider basis, not on a political/national/geographical basis. (how many networks cross the atlantic ocean _in parallel_ between NYC & London? Many. Are single networks which serve multiple central european nations hierarchical per nation? I doubt it. Hell, my cell phone is topologically 2000 miles from my laptop even though they are on the same desk...)

----------------------

That is the reason why. The rest of it is all true for phone systems as well (see Country Codes). It is just that the way the network grew up was ad hoc. It seemed easier to build a system that did not change people's addresses, than it did to build one that did.

What did the phone network do? It prepended numbers to allow country calling and area calling...i.e. it changed its numbering plan. That was an alternative and it was rejected.

I am not saying that one is better or worse. What I am saying is that there is no better or worse. There is, just is. But both networks are equivalent for what they do. The Internet community did not want to impose order. In many ways it could not impose order. So, it is what it is.

However, your comments apply to both networks (gee - need to know how to forward information, check, need to have redundancy - check, multiple parallel networks - check, networks with dubious topologies - check). Both schemes have worked and proven successful.

If you read my messages at the start of this, my claim was that these schemes were NOT the cause of complexity. Multi-layered QoS is the cause. Then, we got religious zealots who want to claim that the phone network does not work or is one thing or the other.

seven
spelurker 12/5/2012 | 2:52:08 AM
re: Alcatel Router Revenues Surge "'You can make addressing match topology or make the topology match the addressing.' -- Yakov"

That's true in a connectionless network. But isn't it the case that the reason the PSTN is able to cope with so many exceptions to strict hierarchical addressing (e.g. local number portability) is because the AIN can be do a lookup on a per-call basis? Doing that for every IP packet gets rather messy (we don't want a DFZ consisting of hundreds of millions of /32s).
---------------------------------------------------
There's a few problems that are faced in the internet:
1. Because lookups are done on a per-packet basis, all routers must know a summary of all addresses
2. Because redundancy is performed at L3, and links (esp. on a worldwide scale) can go up & down fairly often, that huge database has to be continuously synchronized
3. Since the internet has grown organically from many competing providers, the topology is hierarchical on a per provider basis, not on a political/national/geographical basis. (how many networks cross the atlantic ocean _in parallel_ between NYC & London? Many. Are single networks which serve multiple central european nations hierarchical per nation? I doubt it. Hell, my cell phone is topologically 2000 miles from my laptop even though they are on the same desk...)

Based on these, there's really no way for the internet to become area-code based, regardless of what the UN may think. This is why IP mobility schemes always seem to involve tunneling protocols, and thats why BGP is still the routing protocol of choice.
Mark Seery 12/5/2012 | 2:52:09 AM
re: Alcatel Router Revenues Surge Desi,

I can say more tonight, have to get some work done today, but quickly:

You are talking about a situation where a product is using IP control plane protocols AND mpls control plane protocols. Not just IP control plane protocols.

Consider the situation where a product is using IP control plane protocols and GMPLS protocols to establish a wavelength or a STS-1.
desiEngineer 12/5/2012 | 2:52:10 AM
re: Alcatel Router Revenues Surge Mark: "-there is no industry consensus on what to call frame/packet forwarding activities based on MPLS/PWE3. it is not an Ethernet switch at that point - for sure (and as I stated before it does not even necessarily faithfully emulate one). Is it an MPLS Switch? Is it an MPLS router? Is it a LER (where ER stands for edge router)?"

Ok, let's take a "real" example. Provider uses a T640 or a CRS-1 (note, everyone calls these Routers with a capital R) in the core of a network that does IGP shortcuts, BGP-free core, PWs, VPLS, what have you.

Basically, all that Router is doing is label switching, and that too, only tunnel label switching.

That edge router is doing all the BGP, PW signaling, etc.

Forget about what you call the edge box. Why do you call the core box a Router?

(a) Because it could do BGP?
(b) Because it is a cisco or juniper box?
(c) Because it is completely dependent on IP routing protocols to do what it does?
(d) You fill this in so it isn't like I rigged this question to have only those 3 answers.

Personally, I think the answer is (c).

-desi
konafella 12/5/2012 | 2:52:11 AM
re: Alcatel Router Revenues Surge So Mr Seery's states essentially that if it routes at L3 it is a router, it just might not be applicable for many service provider applications, etc.

And TMC1 states that if it is "VLAN-centric" then it is basically an ethernet switch with (sometimes questionable) routing capabilities added.

I couldn't agree more with both of you. In fact, in the service provider market for these products, I like to divide them into two distinct categories:
1) Routers
2) Switches that can route

Let's assume were talking heavy iron here, not little 1RU devices.

In the former category, if a product is being accepted by service providers globally, then it will be very capable of running full Internet BGP among other things.

In the latter category, if a product being accepted by service providers globally, it is not necessarily an endorsement of the products routing capability whatsoever; you really have to understand the applications and the routing performance limits. Some can do the job. While others are merely switches with nice data sheets.

kf
Mark Seery 12/5/2012 | 2:52:11 AM
re: Alcatel Router Revenues Surge Konafella,

I agree generally with the spirit of what you are suggesting. Let me "fuzzy" things up a little though:

-there are valid routing applications for which BGP is not a requirement (in all networks).
-running "full internet BGP" could still be a fairly minimalistic view of the requirement depending on how you interpret that statement.
-there is no industry consensus on what to call frame/packet forwarding activities based on MPLS/PWE3. it is not an Ethernet switch at that point - for sure (and as I stated before it does not even necessarily faithfully emulate one). Is it an MPLS Switch? Is it an MPLS router? Is it a LER (where ER stands for edge router)?..........
-what if the switch in question has routing capabilities as good or better than other routers? is it still a switch that can route?

it does come down to how it is being used. but MPLS and PWE3 have created some difficulty in relating old terminology (switch/router) to new capabilities.

"a market is a conversation"..............
giles0 12/5/2012 | 2:52:12 AM
re: Alcatel Router Revenues Surge "'You can make addressing match topology or make the topology match the addressing.' -- Yakov"

That's true in a connectionless network. But isn't it the case that the reason the PSTN is able to cope with so many exceptions to strict hierarchical addressing (e.g. local number portability) is because the AIN can be do a lookup on a per-call basis? Doing that for every IP packet gets rather messy (we don't want a DFZ consisting of hundreds of millions of /32s).

In some ways DNS can be seen as an analogue of the AIN (in the PSTN case the only sort of addresses they had were phone numbers, so it was a natural choice for the AIN to use the same addressing format as the PSTN, whereas with DNS we use human-friendly addresses since our computers typically ship with QWERTY keyboards as well as numeric keypads).

I guess with ENUM this all comes full circle as we put E.164 addresses in DNS...
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