TiMetra Shoots for Service Edge

Startup TiMetra Networks has unveiled its plan to target the edge with what it calls a "services router." This comes three weeks after Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) announced it would acquire the company (see Alcatel & TiMetra Seal the Deal).

On the first official day of the Supercomm 2003 show, TiMetra also announced it had landed a contract with a small carrier focused on data services, Masergy Communications Inc. Masergy announced today that it is already using the TiMetra products to deploy its VPLS (virtual private LAN service).

TiMetra has built not just one product, but an entire suite of products. It’s SR-series routers have all been designed to sit at various points on the edge of a service provider network to deliver services over an IP/MPLS backbone. These services include all flavors of MPLS virtual private networks, including Layer 3 VPNs based on RFC 2547, Layer 2 point-to-point VPNs using Draft Martini, and virtual private LAN services, a Layer 2 multipoint MPLS VPN that extends corporate Ethernet LANs over the WAN.

TiMetra officials say their product is unique from current edge routing offerings in that it places general processing routing chips on the line cards -- in addition to a more flexible "services" chip --thereby beefing up the forwarding processing.

Another advantage will be density. The smallest product in the offering is the one-slot, 20-Gbit/s SR-1, which occupies just one-and-a-half rack units in a seven foot telecom rack. Next up the list is the 60-Gbit/s SR-4. This chassis offers three slots of input and output and occupies one seventh of a telecom rack. The largest box in the series is the SR-12. It offers 10 usable slots with 200 Gbit/s worth of capacity in one third of a telecom rack.

All of the SR service routers utilize a common set of interface modules and small form-factor pluggable (SFP) optics. The routers support Ethernet interfaces ranging from 10/100 Mbit/s to 10 Gbit/s and TDM-based interfaces from T1/E1 to OC192.

Last month, Alactel agreed to pay $150 million in stock for the startup, and some wondered if the French telecom equipment giant had overpaid. At the time, TiMetra had no announced product or customers. So what’s the verdict now that the details are public?

“My impression is that it looks like a strong product offering,” says Kevin Mitchell, an analyst with Infonetics Research Inc. “Alcatel should have a pretty good product to sell. They just have to convince their customers to think of them when they need IP.”

Kevin Macaluso, vice president of marketing and product management for TiMetra, says that the company’s breadth of products has already helped it win business.

“There are some deals we wouldn’t have won if we hadn’t had the smaller SR-1 form factor,” he says. “The product line scales down cost effectively, which makes it easy for customers to select a platform to meet their needs and price point.”

The company has integrated OA&M capabilities to verify, manage and troubleshoot IP/MPLS services. These features include: service assurance tools to verify all aspects of a service, end-to-end; MAC ping and trace-route tools to rapidly locate network paths to customer premises devices; and service mirroring to troubleshoot services and capture traffic without having to overlay network analyzers or deploy technicians to remote points of presence.

But there is one key feature that’s missing from the SR series, which could hurt it as it competes with other edge routing companies. TiMetra doesn’t support broadband remote access server (B-RAS) features on any of its products. All the other major edge routing vendors now offer this on their routers.

Just yesterday Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) announced B-RAS performance upgrades to its 10000 series router, and it has added B-RAS capability to its 7600 router (see Cisco Pads B-RAS Offering). Laurel Networks Inc., another next-generation edge routing startup, also recently announced B-RAS for its ST200 platform (see Laurel Joins B-RAS Pack). And Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK) announced just yesterday that it has added B-RAS to the SmartEdge router (see Redback Sharpens SmartEdge). The ERX, which Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) acquired from Unisphere Networks last year, was the first edge router to combine edge routing and B-RAS (see Juniper Nabs Unisphere for $740M).

Macaluso says B-RAS wouldn't add much value to the TiMetra portfolio. He argues that service providers deploying B-RAS edge routing combinations don't turn on remote access and edge routing functions at the same time.

“Clearly, carriers don’t want one service per box,” he says. “But they also don’t want every service in one box either.”

Still, he admits that the company could add the feature in the future.

“The architecture of the box doesn’t preclude us from offering B-RAS,” he says. “It’s just something we chose not to focus on. Ninety to 100 people can’t do everything.”

Because the company is being acquired by Alcatel, however there’s a good chance that broadband aggregation features will be added, given that Alcatel is one of the leading DSL equipment providers on the market. A B-RAS platform would complement its existing DSL platforms and would allow it to compete against offerings from LM Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICY), Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE), which all resell Juniper’s E-Series.

“I think they’re downplaying the importance of B-RAS,” says Mitchell of Infonetics. “I bet if they had had more funding, they’d have developed it in the first release.”

— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading

skeptic 12/4/2012 | 11:58:22 PM
re: TiMetra Shoots for Service Edge
A suggestion. Why not cover the product launch
as a product launch rather than use half the
article to talk about something else (BRA-S).

The bigger story about the product is that
its really got no differentiation. Which may
be what alcatel wanted, but raises the question
of how successful its going to be. If alcatel
pushes it (and it works), it might survive.
But there isn't much compelling about the
product and they certainly don't look like
they are in the same league as
others in this (crowded) space.

digerato 12/4/2012 | 11:58:21 PM
re: TiMetra Shoots for Service Edge "For a carrier-class product, isn't NEBS level 3 compliance important?"

Zzzzzz. Yes and no. Can you get a product into a carier CO without NEBS3? Yes -- look at all that 3COM, Ascend & Cisco gear in COs that was not NEBS3 compliant when it went in. Do you need it out of the gate? No, so long as you have the basics down and a plan to come up with the money for the "Telcordia tax" to officially rubber-stamp your product later.

"There's no such thing as "half a rack unit"

This is hair-splitting. Techniclly, you're correct as per Bellcore TRs. If you only ever put one 1.5 unit box in a rack, you're right -- it's the same as a 2U product. However, as soon as you put 2 or more of them in a rack (as you will probably end up doing with an Ethernet access device), it makes a world of difference to port density.


HWxPERT 12/4/2012 | 11:58:21 PM
re: TiMetra Shoots for Service Edge For a carrier-class product, isn't NEBS level 3 compliance important?

The form factor seems strange for the carrier environment. There's no such thing as "half a rack unit"

> Another advantage will be density. The smallest > product in the offering is the one-slot, 20-
> Gbit/s SR-1, which occupies just one-and-a-half > rack units in a seven foot telecom rack.
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