RPR in the Spotlight

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Opticon 2001 -- The controversy over emerging Resilient Packet Ring (RPR) technology, which seeks to make common Ethernet technology more suitable for telecom networks, played out during an afternoon session at the Opticon 2001 conference here today.

The session included presentations from four proponents of RPR, a protocol designed to provide networks based on Ethernet and IP with the protection and manageability of Sonet. Included was Robert Love, chairman of the Resilient Packet Ring Alliance, an industry group geared to promoting the work of the 802.17 working group of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE), which is developing an RPR standard. The alliance claims over 90 members and plans to have its first draft proposal -- for consideration by the IEEE group -- finished by January 2002.

Also on board were Robert Redford, VP of marketing in the Public Carrier IP Group at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO); Gary Southwell, director of technical marketing at Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT); and Nader Vijeh, senior VP of R&D and CTO at Lantern Communications Inc.

Each of the four explained the protocol from a different angle. And when it came time for the Q&A, they were inundated with questions. "Why do you believe that RPR interfaces will be inexpensive?" wrote one attendee on a question card. Others wanted to know: "Is 'double the bandwidth' really true?" "Is RPR too incremental?" "The world seems to be moving away from shared access... Why do we want to use RPR?"

The presenters didn't appear surprised. And they did their best to defend the technology, as RPR continues to generate debate.

RPR is said by proponents to be the fastest, most efficient, and cheapest way to bring Ethernet to metropolitan area networks.

"RPR makes use of existing rings, supports voice revenues, and carries Sonet and Ethernet end to end," says Love. "It will be better than Ethernet, Sonet, or extensions to either."

RPR opponents say it's too much for too little. "It brings back token ring mechanisms and shared access," says Nan Chen, director of product marketing at Atrica Inc.. "It's too complex."

Chen, who was in the audience for part of today's presentation, also is president of the recently formed Metro Ethernet Forum (see Metro Ethernet Forum Meets), and he says that group already enjoys the support of more than 50 companies that believe Ethernet can be made metro-ready through the use of methods such as MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) and TDM circuit emulation. After making clear he's speaking with his Atrica hat on, "RPR is overkill," he says, even while he concedes it may be technologically superior to Ethernet in many ways.

Another sticking point of RPR is simple politics. Cisco has long promoted its own implementation of RPR called Dynamic Packet Transport (DPT), to be the basis for the standard. Indeed, Cisco's recent purchase of AuroraNetics was interpreted by many as an attempt by Cisco to dominate the RPR effort (see Cisco Acquisition Causes RPR Stink ).

Cisco does nothing to counter this perception. In today's presentation, Robert Redford repeatedly referred to RPR as DPT, and mentioned several times that Cisco had invented it and would continue to call it DPT until it became an official standard. "We did invent this a number of years ago, and we have 13,000 ports of DPT in use worldwide," he said.

This provoked eye-rolling and seat-shifting from Love and the other panelists, but no one took Redford to task.

Although scores of questions were sent to the podium, there was time for just a few. Still, unvoiced emotion ran high. One attendee grabbed the moderator's arm on the way out: "Why didn't you ask them who's going to compete with Cisco if they already have 13,000 ports out there? You let them off too easy."

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
dpt 12/4/2012 | 9:56:32 PM
re: RPR in the Spotlight Guys! Who knows anything about the role of DPT (RPR) in the NGN architecture? Can I cosider DPT network as a plain IP network in this aspect? Answer please to [email protected]
Thanks. Alex.
dpt 12/4/2012 | 9:56:31 PM
re: RPR in the Spotlight I saw some materials of Cisco and they gave "real" prices of the networks - so DPT ring was twice as cheaper than POS or 10GE. Something's wrong...
hujifan 12/4/2012 | 7:57:17 PM
re: RPR in the Spotlight

I attended this panel, and i'm afraid that the moderator/reporter totally misunderstood Cisco's DPT-pitch. Rob Redford did say they invented SRP, but he added that that's just their proposal to the 802.17, and they're actually looking into putting changes into it.
The issues is that LightReading people are always after controversy. The actual issues don't seem to interest them, and RPR brings a lot of interesting value props to carriers today.

metroshark 12/4/2012 | 7:57:17 PM
re: RPR in the Spotlight Earlier this year, it was said that the IEEE 802.17 group would publish a draft of the RPR standard by this fall. Has there been any progress on this? I think Cisco and Nortel have quite different RPR implementations, is there any hope of converging these two solutions? Or does Cisco win by default since they have already shipped more than 13,000 ports as stated in this article? Does anybody know how many ports Nortel has shipped?
ivehadit 12/4/2012 | 7:57:15 PM
re: RPR in the Spotlight i agree, hujifan. lightreading likes to publish stories that generate debate, which in turn keeps people coming back for more.

witness the latest article on bandwidth growth and a controversial rpr article.

gea 12/4/2012 | 7:57:12 PM
re: RPR in the Spotlight "lightreading likes to publish stories that generate debate, which in turn keeps people coming back for more"

Is this a criticism of Lightreading or praise? Arguably, the job of a journalist is to keep you coming back for more. If you want cold, objective, interest-free analysis, go buy a marketing report.
ivehadit 12/4/2012 | 7:57:11 PM
re: RPR in the Spotlight but stories sensationalized are less credible. for example, if we were to highlight every twist and turn in the standards process, it would be quite meaningless. what's worth reporting is where the standard is headed, not hype about how its getting there. there is a difference between the new york times and the national enquirer.
flanker 12/4/2012 | 7:57:04 PM
re: RPR in the Spotlight It's a good story because its reasonably informative and it characterizes Cisco's not infrequent efforts to control protocol standards.

Cisco has their act together but there's no guarantee this standard will be broadly implemented.
jshuler 12/4/2012 | 7:57:02 PM
re: RPR in the Spotlight For those of you who are interested: there will be a draft standard presented by multiple companies at the September IEEE meeting that describes working implementations of RPR. This is precisely in line with the timeline that has been presented by the RPR Alliance since its inception in January.

To have such a draft in only 9 months is extraordinary for any standards process. This is a testimony to the effectiveness of the RPRA and the will of the participants in the IEEE to get a real, working standard done quickly.

Yes, there are multiple ideas. Yes, there are politics. No, it's not easy. But isn't this always the case? It's just work!
hauteroute 12/4/2012 | 7:56:58 PM
re: RPR in the Spotlight My understanding is that the Sept. 802.17 meeting will include drafts from two camps...this will further degrade progress on a technology that currently has too many holes in it for "real" carriers to deploy it...
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Sign In