Juniper Gets More Redundant

Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) continued its Ethernet/IPTV offensive today with the release of the M120 router, a box that comes with a new processor and a new architecture meant to add protection at the processor level.

Targeting medium-sized POPs, the M120 is a smaller sequel to the M320, Juniper's multiservice edge router launched two years ago. (See Juniper Hatches the M320.) It can support 128 Gigabit Ethernet ports along with two 10-Gbit/s uplinks that can run Ethernet or Sonet/SDH.

The M120 comes with enhancements such as quality of service (QOS) for Ethernet and application-minded queuing that can prioritize voice or video -- the kinds of things meant to appeal to carriers' IPTV demands. Juniper has been criticized for lagging Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) in carrier Ethernet and, therefore, in Ethernet-heavy IPTV jobs. The company has responded by promising a series of product rollouts covering the rest of the year. (See Juniper Tunes Its Ethernet, IPTV Stories and IPTV, Alcatel Still Dog Juniper.)

But IPTV aside, the most striking difference in the M120 is the way it handles packets inside the box. "What our customers have called for is more redundancy," says Alan Sardella, a Juniper product marketing manager.

The M120 answers that by separating two of the primary functions of a linecard: packet parsing, where the header is extracted and read; and packet forwarding, which includes determining what priority level the packet gets and which queue it gets assigned to.

Usually, a linecard handles both functions and sends the packet off to the switching card. Juniper has split up the functions so that one card begins the process, then moves it to another card called a forwarding engine board (FEB) for the packet forwarding step, when then sends it to the switching card.

The FEBs include Juniper's new network processor, dubbed I-Chip, which handles Layer 2 forwarding and Layer 3 routing requirements and interprets QOS levels, among other functions. That's the piece Juniper is protecting with this extra redundancy: If one I-Chip goes down, traffic can be routed to a backup FEB.

Juniper insists this doesn't add to the complexity of the router. The M120's switching cards have been merged onto the control cards inside the box, freeing up slots for the FEBs. And while it's true a packet needs one more "jump" to get through the router, Juniper says the increased redundancy is what carriers have asked for.

"This is just one more level of hardware redundancy," Sardella says. It's appearing as a POP requirement for a few reasons, one being to preserve service-level agreements, giving Ethernet the kind of backup found in older ATM and Frame Relay services. Moreover, capabilities such as high availability are becoming important further towards the network edge, not just at the core. "As convergence moves out of the core and spreads throughout the network, the capabilities you need on the multiservice edge are approaching what we've always needed in the core," Sardella says.

Analyst Eve Griliches of IDC thinks the extra redundancy will be welcomed by carriers. A former product manager with router vendor Wellfleet, she had asked for this kind of redundancy only to be told, back then, that it was too difficult to add.

"I had asked for processor redundancy like that. Why couldn't we have one processor that the other processors fail over to?" Griliches says. "That's a huge benefit."

The I-Chip is likely to turn up in future boxes, too, although Juniper won't discuss specifics.

Separately, the M120 gives Juniper another router with 10-Gbit/s capabilities. Older routers such as the M20 and M40e, were built for 2.5-Gbit/s traffic. "Another router that has 10-Gbit/s uplinks is a really important space for them to fill," Griliches says.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:48:29 AM
re: Juniper Gets More Redundant It would have been funny if this story posted right after the previous Juniper story. (Of course the joke would be lost after, like, one day.)

So, Juniper has now put out a couple of products to answer the Ethernet/IPTV criticisms, and there are apparently more to come. So far, is this affecting your opinion of Juniper's IPTV prospects?
bosox 12/5/2012 | 3:48:26 AM
re: Juniper Gets More Redundant Craig,

Do you think or know if all of these new routers include chips from EZchip?
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:48:25 AM
re: Juniper Gets More Redundant Dear Craig:
I give JNPR the same chances of IP-TV success as the rest of the bunch, which is zero. I think IP-TV is an economic dead end that is paralyzing the industry and rendering it an economic wasteland.
lightreceding 12/5/2012 | 3:48:24 AM
re: Juniper Gets More Redundant there seem to be two questions here, the viability of IPTV and Junipers prospects of gaining a significant share of the hardware market.

IPTV isn't yet a proven money maker. It is still a defensive play for carriers who are competing with cable operators. That doesn't mean it won't eventually succeed.

There is a bigger question, is the Internet profitable and will it survive as it is? The whole Net Neutrality issue and Junipers IPSphere initiative.

As far as Juniper being better positioned in IPTV infrastructure, they can make money even if IPTV does not, just as they have made money so far selling infrastructure to support a mostly unprofitable Internet.

These new products move them further in the right direction, but not far enough. Their current model based on the E-Series won't scale. Their move to add 10Gig Ethernet to the routers will help and so will increased resiliency. But what they need is a high powered low cost switch with intelligence.

alchemy 12/5/2012 | 3:48:22 AM
re: Juniper Gets More Redundant materialgirl writes:
Dear Craig:
I give JNPR the same chances of IP-TV success as the rest of the bunch, which is zero. I think IP-TV is an economic dead end that is paralyzing the industry and rendering it an economic wasteland.


People don't seem to understand that content isn't free. Those 300 channels of absolute garbage cost the MSOs and satellite companies huge piles of money. The business model is buy wholesale, sell retail. The actual margin on that business is quite low after you're done paying off the content providers. The big MSO profit margin comes from their cable modem internet business. If I start up "Alchemy's IPTV Site" and pirate the video feed from any of the content providers, I'll be shut down by court order in nanoseconds.
sgamble 12/5/2012 | 3:48:21 AM
re: Juniper Gets More Redundant Lightreceding,

I couldn't agree more with your last paragraph. Juniper will never dent the Ethernet/Aggregation side without a switch with high port density. This is where Alcatel has them smoked with the 7450 in my opinion.

At a muni I worked at I would need two of these M120s in each PoP because of the amount of Gig-E ports I require not to mention 100FX/TX ports.

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