The timing is partly coincidental; both companies are holding events for Wall Street analysts this week and probably want something new to talk about. But it's happening with some extra drama in the background, thanks to Cisco's attack against what it says are unfairly sunny market perceptions of Juniper. (See Cisco Starts Totally Ragging on Juniper.)
Juniper (we literally flipped a coin to pick which company would go first in this story) announced a new switch fabric for its MX960 edge router, bringing its theoretical per-slot capacity to 240 Gbit/s. Juniper doesn't yet have line cards to fill that capacity; the largest announced card carries 16 ports of 10Gbit/s Ethernet.
A card with two 100Gbit/s ports is on its way, says Alan Sardella, a Juniper senior product marketing manager. That card would be based on a 100Gbit/s version of the company's Trio chipset, now in field trials. (The original Trio chips handle only 40 Gbit/s of traffic, meaning three sets of Trios would be needed in order to handle a 100Gbit/s feed.)
Cisco is adding to its ASR line of edge routers, pushing the family closer to the edge:
- ASR 901 -- Intended for cell sites.
- ASR 903 -- For cell-site aggregation, a space also occupied by some of Cisco's ME switches. The MEs are fixed-configuration, whereas the 903 is modular.
- ASR 9001 -- A smaller version of the ASR 9922 announced in June.
The new routers all have the network virtualization capability that Cisco discussed in June.
Why this matters
The MX upgrade gives Juniper more ammo in the battle over edge-router stats. Cisco has claimed the ASR 9000 line can handle 400 Gbit/s per slot -- which might be true, but the company has yet to produce an interface using all 400Gbit/s.
Density is going to be important for both companies as they face edge-router competition not just from each other, but from Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.
Speaking of which -- Cisco's new ASRs are essentially a strike not at Juniper, but at AlcaLu, says analyst Ray Mota of ACG Research . "If you were to look at where Alcatel-Lucent's been strong, it's selling into cell sites and cell aggregation. Now Cisco's flexing its muscle in those areas," he says.
The original Juniper Trio and Cisco ASR 9922 announcements, and a few other recent items from the edge-router files:
- Juniper Takes Over the Network
- Cisco Fights Back at the Edge
- Ericsson Debuts New Service Routers
- AlcaLu Looks Beyond 100GigE
- Ciena, Cisco & Juniper Get Piece of Comcast's MetroE
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading