Zuma Integrates the Edge

On Tuesday Zuma Networks, an MRV Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: MRVC) company, will announce its Linux-based LightReef product line, an edge networking device that incorporates security and IP services features.

The company has positioned itself among switching companies like Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Riverstone Networks (Nasdaq: RSTN), Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY), and Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR), as well as companies focusing on subscriber management and service provisioning like CoSine Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: COSN) and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) (through its Shasta 5000), along with a slew of other startups like Celox Networks, net.com (NYSE: NWK), and Quarry Technologies Inc.. Zuma's product functions as a Layer 2 through Layer 4 switch/router that also incorporates IP services and security features such as firewalling and virtual private networking.

Integrating application-level switching with security service provisioning is an ongoing trend, says Ron Westfall an analyst with Current Analysis. Nortel has already been talking about integrating its Shasta 5000 service creation platform with its Alteon Web switch, he adds.

“There’s an ongoing effort to integrate application-aware switching and subscriber management service switching,” he says. “I think that Zuma is hitting on an area of convergence within the industry, however I have to see more of their story to see how they differ from other companies.”

The company sees its open Linux operating system as its big differentiator against others working in a similar direction. Linux will supposedly allow service providers to write new applications directly to the platform and develop new services, says the company. But some analysts like Westfall don’t see this as a big selling point.

“No one is against open systems,” he says. “It’s fine if they are just going after the Linux aficionados, but it’s not clear to me how much of a zinger it would be to carriers who are already using their own billing systems that aren’t Linux based.”

It’s no surprise that Zuma has used Linux for the basis of its platform, considering its background. The company originally began as part of NBase-Xyplex, another MRV startup, which had been developing a Linux-based core router to compete with Cisco and Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) (see Router Vendors Look To Linux ). Although NBase still exists as a company, its technology has been scattered throughout different MRV companies like Optical Access Inc. and Zuma, says Russell Hertzberg, vice president of marketing for Zuma.

Although the company may play up its open programming environment and mix of service creation and fast switching, it still falls short in a few key areas. For example, in its first release, LightReef won’t support multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) and border gateway protocol (BGP-4) routing code. Other edge-switch routing companies like Riverstone, Extreme, Cisco, Foundry, and Unisphere Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: UNSP) already offer BGP-4 in their devices. And it is viewed in the industry as a necessary element for routing.

“It’s a concern,” says Westfall. “Most of the edge-switch vendors out there are already implementing BGP-4. It makes it harder for Zuma to position itself against these other players if it doesn’t have it, too.”

MPLS has also become a necessary buzz-word that needs to be included on a marketing data sheet. Cisco and CoSine have already made it a part of their products, and customers are starting to roll it out. Also other switch/router vendors like Riverstone and Extreme are rolling out or at least announcing MPLS plans.

Hertzberg says these features are on the roadmap for future releases, but he wouldn’t specify when they would be available.

Another potential problem is that the LightReef products are not Network Equipment Building Systems (NEBS) compliant, which could hurt the company’s plans to target incumbent service providers. But Hertzberg argues that Zuma can still target large carriers even without being NEBS compliant. In support, he says that the company is currently testing its product with NTT Corp., the big Japanese telco.

“Not every service provider deploys equipment in a central office,” he says. “So you don’t necessarily have to be NEBS compliant. We aren’t the first company to release a product that isn’t compliant and then re-do it. And we won’t be the last either.”

Although analysts agree that NEBS is not necessary to sell into carrier networks, it doesn’t hurt. "This is like the MPLS and BGP-4 issue,” says Westfall. "I think it will at least cause them some sales and marketing headaches. I’m sure their competitors will use that against them.”

The LightReef products will be demonstrated at Networld + Interop in Las Vegas next week and will be shipping in the third quarter of 2001.

-- Marguerite Reardon, senior editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com

perry1961 12/4/2012 | 8:29:50 PM
re: Zuma Integrates the Edge should hear MRV's earnings call from this evening.Zuma CEO went into great detail on new product.There's a link at MRV.com
BTW,Charlottes web will be getting its terabit router retest the week of May 14th and we should get the results here on Lightreading soon after.
Looking forward to it....
SectorInvestor 12/4/2012 | 8:29:50 PM
re: Zuma Integrates the Edge Marguerite, you should check your 3Q date. The question was asked in the Conference Call tonight and they said they were already shipping for revenue.

Also, you should make clear the differences between LightReef and other Routers. Zuma has features they don't - like scaleable supercomputing capabilities, up to 32 CPUs, 10GigE, integrated QoS and strong Security.
netskeptic 12/4/2012 | 8:29:48 PM
re: Zuma Integrates the Edge > b-because its free, not really an RTOS
> (Realtime Operating System) vendor will never
> make pricing an issue, and the small royalty
> you end up paying will be paid back big time
> with the extra realibility and time to market
> advantages of get

There is a couple of pretty decent free RTOSes
(RTEMS & eCos). I have personal experience with RTEMS it seems pretty good, fully functional and stable, I suppose that the only problem is networking which is coming directly from bsd with minimal adaptation.
I suppose, it should not matter, though - network companies will put their own (purchased) IP stack in anyway.

For those who is interested in RTEMS look at
http://www.rtems.com - I am not affiliated with it in any form or shape except ocasionally contributing small pieces.


PBC 12/4/2012 | 8:29:48 PM
re: Zuma Integrates the Edge

Good overview, thanks a lot.

Wonder if Linux is on the control processors or the line cards or both?

I am a bit (or a lot) concerned about people designing Linux into these boxes.

Linux for the most part, even embedded Linux, is a monolithic blob of code where you have the kernel, protocol stacks and just about everything else running in kernel mode (i.e. in a single, unprotected address space.....). This is a scary proposition, because we know that all software has bugs and sooner or later (sooner than later with Linux) a memory exception with cause a crash in the kernel, crashing the whole system.

So what is the main reason for having a
Linux based router?

a-because the market is Linux crazy...because they seem to have the best business model, no revenues and billion dollar valuations...maybe no any more

b-because its free, not really an RTOS (Realtime Operating System) vendor will never make pricing an issue, and the small royalty you end up paying will be paid back big time with the extra realibility and time to market advantages of get

c-because service providers will be able to write apps for billing and provisioning themselves...(kiss any performance or reliability guarantees away from the OEM who designed the box...if its not our version of the kernel, we do not support or stand by it...typical in the Linux world.

I am obviously biased, I work for an RTOS company. I welcome any feedback that would educate me to what kind of perception is out in the market with respect to Linux or its many derivatives.

How many comanies do we know of who are using Linux in a switch or routers?

Who out there thinks that Linux is a viable operating system for any carrier/service provider targeted product?


dishwasher 12/4/2012 | 8:28:08 PM
re: Zuma Integrates the Edge The Linux is not the RTOS. That is something propriety called DARTOS (Distributed Architecture RTOS). It controls the network processors etc. Linux is added to inteface with the API set for the L4-L7 applications about to come.
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