Ericsson Debuts New Service Routers

Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) is introducing its new Smart Services Routers (SSR) 8000 line on Wednesday, claiming it's built an architecture better suited for the delivery of premium services.

The routers achieve the 400Gbit/s-per-slot specification that was rumored in December (see link below). The largest of the new line, the SSR 8020, has 20 slots.

More importantly, Ericsson officials say the SSRs are better designed for carrying premium services. Some of the differences are in the way the router prioritizes traffic; eight priority queues extend through the switch fabric, in contrast to typical routers where the switch fabric has a limited ability to prioritize traffic.

The switch fabric is also distributed among eight small switching elements, for redundancy. It's not as if switching cards fail all that frequently, but Ericsson wanted to give the router a better chance to survive any freak occurrences, thus protecting those premium services, says Michael Gronovius, an Ericsson head of product marketing.

Separately, Ericsson tells Light Reading that Georges Antoun, head of the IP and broadband business unit, has retired from the company, to be replaced by Jan Häglund. Antoun, who joined with the 2007 acquisition of Redback Networks, had been head of the business since 2008.

Antoun's plans are unknown, but one source points out that if he joins Metaswitch Networks it'll be one big Redback reunion. Kevin DeNuccio and Thomas L. Cronan III, Redback's former CEO and CFO, are holding those jobs with Metaswitch. (See Is Metaswitch Prepping Its IPO?)

Why this matters
Services have become the buzzword for routers as every vendor tries to find new ways to help carriers make money: Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) has been calling its boxes "service routers" for years, for instance. The ability to best handle services and virtualization (think cloud computing) will likely be a central competitive element for router vendors in coming years.

Speaking of those usual speed metrics, it's clear that claims of 400Gbit/s slots are all the rage. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) started it with the ASR 9000, and AlcaLu recently followed suit.

Not everyone might be using "400Gbit/s" the same way, though. When AlcaLu officials say their routers can do 400 Gbit/s per slot, they mean the FP3 packet-processing chip receives 200 Gbit/s of traffic from the router interfaces while simultaneously sending 200 Gbit/s towards the switch fabric.

We don't yet have details on the reasons for Antoun's departure, but his replacement by Häglund will help Ericsson make its umlaut quota for the year. Ericsson has been going through some changes recently, including a trimming of its Silicon Valley staff.

For more
A little more about edge routers in general and Ericsson in particular.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

bergea 12/5/2012 | 4:54:59 PM
re: Ericsson Debuts New Service Routers

I was visiting Ericsson on July 1 when Georges Antoun announced his retirement from Ericsson, and I met Jan Häglund who has teken over as head of the IP and broadband business unit.  Jan is quite tall and an 18-year veteran of Ericsson with a strong vision for the unit where he was number two over the past two years. 

At the Ericsson North America Analyst Forum I attended this week, Jan Häglund presented the value proposition for the new Smart Services Routers (SSR) 8000 line.  He claims that SSRs are better designed than traditional routers for mobile broadband services. His challenge is to explain how the SSRs integrate several functions of separate boxes in the packet core.   He must also rationalize a product line that includes Juniper core and former Redback edge routers along with the new SSR line.    

Georges Antoun went back to Dallas to spend time with his family, but his future plans are still unknown.  i am sure he will be invited to join the Redback reunion. 

sam masud 12/5/2012 | 4:54:57 PM
re: Ericsson Debuts New Service Routers

200Mbps in and 200Mbps out is still 200Mbps, and not 400Mbps.

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:54:56 PM
re: Ericsson Debuts New Service Routers

Chomsky - I know what you mean.  :)  AlcaLu's "400G" is really talking about the FP3 chip, I should have pointed out.  The chip is bringing in 200G at the same time it's sending out 200G -- so it's not double-counting of the same traffic. It's doing a total of 400G of work, just in two separate pieces. 

IIRC, they do claim that two FP3s on one card will create a 400G slot as per the "real" 400G definition. 

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:54:56 PM
re: Ericsson Debuts New Service Routers

Thanks Berge. I hadn't had time to really inquire about Haglund and his plans. (To be fair: Ericsson wanted to set up a meeting while Haglund is in the Bay Area for their analyst day, but the times didn't work out.)

Haglund does have an interesting challenge in front of him. At least he's got a differentiated product to start from -- but yes, there are a few details I should get Ericsson to flesh out.

dellman 12/5/2012 | 4:54:56 PM
re: Ericsson Debuts New Service Routers

Any idea about the power consumption?. The box looks big and occupies one whole rack

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