Rumor: Alcatel Craves the Core
Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) is working on a new IP router and rumors abound that the vendor is aiming to challenge Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) CRS-1 in the network core.
The new router would be years off, but it would give Alcatel a core-router story beyond the 7750 from TiMetra, a box that's also sold for the multiservice edge (see TiMetra Shoots for Service Edge and Alcatel Sticks to Core Plans).
Alcatel officials declined to comment, but some new IP router was mentioned during Tuesday's Agere Systems Inc. (NYSE: AGR.A) conference call with analysts. During the call, Agere CEO John Dickson noted the company's enterprise and networking group had added five new ASIC customers during the year "including Alcatel, for custom IP router products."
Alcatel's previous core-router play was the 7770 Optical Broadband Exchange, which shipped to customers including China Netcom Corp. Ltd.. But the product was canceled with the TiMetra acquisition (see Alcatel Redraws Router Strategy).
Aside from size, the 7770 introduced features such as nonstop routing. Alcatel shifted those features to the 7750.
Huge core routers still aren't needed immediately, but carriers like to see them in vendors' plans. In Cisco's case, the CRS-1 provides an 18-chassis, 46-Tbit/s router and a new operating system that could eventually replace the company's Internetwork Operating System (IOS). Announced in May, the CRS-1 competes against the Terabit Switch Router from Avici Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: AVCI; Frankfurt: BVC7) and an upcoming multichassis version of the T640 from Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR). (See Cisco Stumps for CRS-1 and Juniper's TX Waits Its Turn.)
So far, Alcatel has stayed out of that race, citing the lack of demand for anything that big. Company officials have pointed out that the TiMetra router, although often described as an edge play, can carry bandwidth on par with what the T640 can do.
Alcatel isn't the only vendor allegedly circling the uppermost tiers of the core-router space. Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. reportedly has a core router of its own, too.
The company has a reseller deal with Avici, but separately, a home-grown core router is being marketed to Huawei customers in China. It's already garnered Huawei a major win at the core of a bank network, says Frank Dzubeck, president of consultancy Communications Network Architects. It's a big deal -- Dzubeck says the bank's network is larger than that of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ).
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading