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Nortel Preps New PBT Switch

The question for Nortel is not "What's new?" but "What's MetroNext?"

Nortel is taking its carrier Ethernet campaign to the next level with the development of a new switch, codenamed MetroNext, that will be optimized for Provider Backbone Transport (PBT) and include support for multicast services such as IPTV.

Though not yet publicly announced, Nortel has confirmed that the MetroNext platform is in development, but it's keeping some of the finer technical and timing details quiet as it looks to stay at the forefront of PBT developments. (See PBT Gathers Support and PBT Means What?)

Phillipe Morin, president of Nortel's Metro Ethernet Networks division, says Nortel is putting a lot of resources into carrier Ethernet R&D and is looking to build on its initial Tier 1 success at BT, along with some engagements with smaller operators.

BT has already deployed Nortel's PBT-enabled Ethernet switches in Italy, where it serves enterprise customers, while deployment as part of BT's 21CN next-generation network project will be further down the line. Now the vendor is hell-bent on signing up other major incumbents that will give PBT the credibility it needs to become a viable alternative to Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS). (See BT Goes Live With PBT, Vendors Clash Over PBT, and MPLS: Metro a No-Go?)

So what's Nortel's plan? Morin says Nortel is looking to develop new hardware platforms, service capabilities, and management functions.

"The MetroNext product is part of the overall product enhancement process -- it's part of the focus to make PBT more deployable," said Morin when asked about the new product development during a recent telephone interview with Light Reading.

"We're continuing to invest and not waiting for the competition to catch up," he added.

That investment includes adding multicast capabilities to the new Ethernet platform. PBT can currently enable the provision of point-to-point connections, but the vendor is keen to enable multipoint capabilities so that it can pitch PBT into the IPTV infrastructure market.

"We're going to introduce [multicast] functionality and strengthen the network management," stated Morin.

And the network management needs strengthening. PBT's lack of a control plane, along with the fact that PBT is not yet a standardized technology (and unlikely to be so much before 2009), is regarded by many as one of the technology's biggest handicaps.

Morin says Nortel's current aim is to: integrate as many of the operations, administration and management (OA&M) functions, such as remote management capabilities, into the company's Ethernet switches; enhance Nortel's own Metro Ethernet Manager element management software; and team up with specialist software firms, such as Soapstone Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SOAP), that can deliver control plane capabilities and interface with existing carrier OSS systems. (See Avici Amped Up for Soapstone Launch, Soapstone Intros PNC for PBT, and PBT Parties On.)

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bollocks187 12/5/2012 | 2:58:50 PM
re: Nortel Preps New PBT Switch This looks like the makings of a "new agressive" Nortel. Their current pioneering work in the PBT space is to be congratulated.

Nortel from the ashes.
fsubob 12/5/2012 | 2:58:49 PM
re: Nortel Preps New PBT Switch I agree, impressive direction after PBT launch...
go_ON 12/5/2012 | 2:58:48 PM
re: Nortel Preps New PBT Switch Oh please. Congradulations are far too premature here. Let them deliver a stable product and get real depoyments that are not press anouncements around lab trials. When was the last succesful packet platform they released? The Italian deployment is a disaster from what I hear. And the "simple" PBT/PBB gets more complex (read expensive) every quarter in order to plug the gaps that MPLS already fills

digits 12/5/2012 | 2:58:48 PM
re: Nortel Preps New PBT Switch You have to admit, though, that Nortel has, this time, managed to come up with a decent name for a product - MetroNext. That's actually pretty good.

Now all they need to do is stick with it -- surely that is not a name they would replace -- AND deliver something that works.... the tough end of the proposition.

Ray
chook0 12/5/2012 | 2:58:48 PM
re: Nortel Preps New PBT Switch I'll believe it when I see it. Nortel has been better at announcing products than delivering them recently. But I'm hoping they can bring it off this time.

--chook
Metropolitian 12/5/2012 | 2:58:44 PM
re: Nortel Preps New PBT Switch I think Nortel is getting ahead of themselves.
The internet world is (and always will be) Cisco-centric. MPLS is the defacto standard for good reason. It has a 10 year proven track record. PBT is essentially an unproven technology with numerous limitations.

1) It is a point-to-point technology
2) It does not support mutlicasting, therefore is useless for applications like IPTV.
3) By disabling Spanning Tree (which Nortel claims is a good thing), the network topology has to be manually entered. A NMS nightmare.

When "Nortel says many carriers haveshown interest in PBT", this actually translates to: Lets tell Cisco we are considering PBT, so that we can negiotate concessions on pricing for future MPLS equipment purchases.

Metro
macster 12/5/2012 | 2:58:44 PM
re: Nortel Preps New PBT Switch I think Nortel is getting ahead of themselves.
The internet world is (and always will be) Cisco-centric. MPLS is the defacto standard for good reason. It has a 10 year proven track record. PBT is essentially an unproven technology with numerous limitations.

1) It is a point-to-point technology
2) It does not support mutlicasting, therefore is useless for applications like IPTV.
3) By disabling Spanning Tree (which Nortel claims is a good thing), the network topology has to be manually entered. A NMS nightmare.

When "Nortel says many carriers haveshown interest in PBT", this actually translates to: Lets tell Cisco we are considering PBT, so that we can negiotate concessions on pricing for future MPLS equipment purchases.

Metro

======================

1 & 2). PLSB will go a long way to address these.
3). There'll be automated control.

There is a big change in going from enterprise class to carrier class (e.g. mindset, cost, etc), and my concern is the cost justifications of carrier class ethernet - this is the pitch used! Saying that, Eth transport for primarily (if not solely) ethernet services has its place in the market!!!
go_ON 12/5/2012 | 2:58:43 PM
re: Nortel Preps New PBT Switch 1 & 2). PLSB will go a long way to address these.

PLSB looks a lot like ISIS-TE, so hence my point about PBT getting more complex and expensive to mimic what MPLS already does, AND PLSB is slideware as of now

There'll be automated control.

When and how? and when will it be multi-vendor? there are two routes:- 1 Control Plane 2 NMS managing multiple vendors - Each option adds expense. In fact I think option 1 is a better long term solution and that too is already done and deployed wrt MPLS

PBT only has merit (to me) if it can be deployed and managed significantly cheaper than say a ethernet MPLS solution, and I have not seen reasons to suggest this is the case so far
Metropolitian 12/5/2012 | 2:58:43 PM
re: Nortel Preps New PBT Switch My other issue with PBT is the added overhead.

Granted, PLSB might address broadcast and multicast issues.

PLSB adds 8 bytes extra overhead to your existing payload. This translates to 12% added overhead for 64 byte traffic and 0.5% added overhead for 1522 byte traffic. This averages out to 6% added overhead for a random packet flow. This translates to 5 to 6% reduction in traffic capacity of your existing links.


macster 12/5/2012 | 2:58:41 PM
re: Nortel Preps New PBT Switch 1 & 2). PLSB will go a long way to address these.

PLSB looks a lot like ISIS-TE, so hence my point about PBT getting more complex and expensive to mimic what MPLS already does, AND PLSB is slideware as of now

There'll be automated control.

When and how? and when will it be multi-vendor? there are two routes:- 1 Control Plane 2 NMS managing multiple vendors - Each option adds expense. In fact I think option 1 is a better long term solution and that too is already done and deployed wrt MPLS

PBT only has merit (to me) if it can be deployed and managed significantly cheaper than say a ethernet MPLS solution, and I have not seen reasons to suggest this is the case so far

=================================================

go_ON,

If you want to quote me, please include the whole thing! If you go back to my previous post, what you are doing is merely repeating what I have said.

I, on the other hand, pointed out aspects of your previous post which was not entirely true!

Your last paragraph above...
"PBT only has merit (to me) if it can be deployed and managed significantly cheaper than say a ethernet MPLS solution, and I have not seen reasons to suggest this is the case so far"

Again, if you refer back to my previous post...
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