ZTE Pushes Core Routers Beyond China

Light Reading's publication Thursday of a 100Gbit/s test on ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) core routers opened up many questions.

Such as: ZTE makes a core router? And: Really?

The answers, of course, are "Yes" and "Weren't you listening?" In fact, ZTE ranks fourth in the world in core routers, according to ACG Research .

Which sounds terrific until you realize the number of core-router vendors tracked by ACG is -- how shall we put this? -- somewhat less than five. ZTE trailed Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. with roughly 2 percent market share in the first quarter of 2011.

ZTE's is the first in a planned series of 100Gbit/s router tests based on a template developed by the European Advanced Networking Test Center AG (EANTC) . In general, the template tests a router's intelligence at scale, emulating an environment with hundreds of virtual private networks (VPNs) and tens of thousands of subscribers -- not just a packet blast. (EANTC also lets vendors add two tests of their choosing.)

Specific items tested include IPv6 throughput; the shaping and prioritizing of traffic; and the scaling of Layer 3 VPNs. (See 100Gbit/s Ethernet Router Test: ZTE.)

ZTE submitted its ZXR10 M6000-16, a full-rack box that's really a multiservice router. The company says its core router, the ZXR10 T8000 launched in September, is essentially the same box with multichassis capability added, so that the test results should be valid for both boxes. (See ZTE Fills Out Its 100G and ZTE Unveils Multiservice Router.)

To build router market share, ZTE is going with the obvious plan: Copy what Huawei did. That is, ZTE started by courting Chinese service providers and is now acting as Huawei's foil in some deals in the Middle East and Africa, and even a little bit in Europe.

"I could map to you how Huawei is going about it, and ZTE is following them out there," says Ray Mota, an analyst with ACG.

For either vendor, routers are a tough sell outside China because Layer 3 networks are often executive decisions, Mota says. So, the key for ZTE has been to target projects where operators are converging network layers.

"The way they're doing it is not by going in and saying, 'Here's a router.' They've been bundling it into some kind of IMS [IP multimedia subsystem] package, for instance."

Huawei is known for vertical integration, and it looks like ZTE is following that lead, too. For the 100Gbit/s test, ZTE provided LR4 CFP modules from Reflex Photonics Inc. But ZTE's representatives told EANTC that ZTE intends to build its own modules, using ZTE-supplied chipsets and optics. (See Can Vendors Build Their Optical Components? and Vertical Integration Takes Its Lumps.)

EANTC's 13-page report can be read for free, with Light Reading registration (which is also free), right here.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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