Optical/IP Networks

Tellabs Sharpens Its Edge

Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA) announced some key updates to its multiservice edge routers today, a move that -- much like Juniper Networks Inc.'s (Nasdaq: JNPR) product introduction -- reaffirms that carriers are hot on the idea of migrating their legacy edge networks to IP/MPLS cores (see Tellabs Enhances Multiservice Routers).

Tellabs today announced support for Ethernet, IP virtual private networks (VPNs), virtual private LAN services (VPLS), and Layer 2 VPNs with interworking to the 8800 product line.

Tellabs also said the routers have now completed successful lab trials with several major service providers and they recently completed a live demo of all the new features at the MPLS World Congress (see The MPLS Show Must Go On).

The products sit at the edge of the transport network, aggregating and switching Ethernet, ATM, and Frame Relay access traffic and handing it off to either an IP/MPLS-routed network or an ATM-switched backbone.

The big question here is: Are the new products routers or switches? Before Tellabs acquired Vivace Networks, it called its Tellabs 8800 service router family "IP switches." The name waffling is understandable; the 8800s have the QOS (quality of service) functions of a Layer 2 switch and the packet forwarding functions of a Layer 3 router.

It looks as if Tellabs will market the product as both. The new version of the 8800 includes support for IP/MPLS VPNs, and the overall goal is to help carriers maintain their old service-specific overlay networks while giving them a chance to introduce new IP-based services.

"Carriers have made it clear that they need to change the edge of their networks to make them service flexible," says Mike Kazban, VP of marketing for Tellabs' Advanced Data Products group.

The move to upgrade 8800 series is timed well, given the new push by service providers into edge boxes that combine the capabilities of Frame Relay, ATM, and MPLS-based services in a better way than legacy IP routers and Layer 2 switches.

"The simple fact is that building service-specific overlays is still the most effective way to protect high-revenue services from newer, less-mature services such as IP," writes analyst Geoff Bennett in "Setting a Course to Convergence: The Incumbents' Wireline Strategies," a Heavy Reading report. "Most incumbent operators around the world are quite happy with their legacy networks, and will continue to operate and expand these networks organically."

In a little more than a year, this category of devices has gone from zero to hero. But competition is growing. Juniper, Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) (with its acquisition of Timetra), Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) (with its purcahse of WaveSmith), and Tellabs are all taking aim at the space (see Tellabs Snags Vivace for $135M).

Kazban says the 8800 products are deployed at NTT Communications Corp. to provide Ethernet-over-MPLS services, with future plans for ATM and Frame Relay. The boxes are also at all of MCI MAE peering points, he says.

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

COMMENTS Add Comment
coreghost 12/5/2012 | 2:25:53 AM
re: Tellabs Sharpens Its Edge
The switch router concept is not new. There were lots of
ATM switches with IP functionality on them, and tellabs
products are the next logical step down that road.

But tellabs (and vivace) still could not spell data or "ip"
to save their lives. Their systems deliver a specific
set of services and thats where the carrier interest comes in.

The ex-vivace product may be better now, but it didn't have a
great reputation before tellabs got involved.

I would put them at a #3 behind juniper and Timetra (Alcatel).
ThouShaltNotJudge 12/5/2012 | 2:25:47 AM
re: Tellabs Sharpens Its Edge I agree. The reputation of Vivace may have improved, but it's a mistake to believe that their product will improve because of Tellabs. Tellabs acquired Vivace because they lack meaningful competency in this space. And, like most other M&A's, this one is doomed to fail the moment they begin to intervene.

materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 2:25:38 AM
re: Tellabs Sharpens Its Edge The "old" TLAB is a circuit-switch company. What about the "new" TLAB under a new CEO?
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