EENY 2010: Packet vs. Optical
They're working with opposing motivations. Router vendors preach IP over DWDM, a means of skipping optical transponders. Companies coming from the optical direction say new packet-optical transport systems (P-OTS) can be used to bypass core-router ports.
Both sides say they expect to coexist in peace and harmony, and it's true that neither routers nor optical boxes are in danger of extinction. But it's obvious that companies are approaching packet/optical convergence from two competing angles.
Which brings us back to Finnie. Again. You'll recall he ranted about 100 Gbit/s at last week's Ethernet Expo Americas. (See EENY 2010: Carrier Wants Cheap 100GigE Now Please and EENY 2010: 100G Complaints Continue.)
During one of those panels, he also mentioned his coalition idea, saying packet and optical vendors "need to work together... We're looking for you to drive out something that is cost effective. Otherwise, the whole thing will stop."
Houman Modarres of Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) was on the panel, and he had a good point about that word: "I guess you could look at Guantanamo as a coalition, too. People did different crimes and ended up in the same place."
His point with the analogy was that a coalition could end up being an opportunity for everyone to suffer together.
I think Finnie's head and heart are in the right places in suggesting cooperation. He believes it could breed success for the equipment vendors while also saving costs and trouble for his company. And it's not impossible. Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) and Nokia Networks are working together -- although some, including analyst Ed Zabitsky of ACI Research , thinks NSN has the upper hand in that partnership. (See Is Juniper Junior-Grade?)
But the tendency of every equipment vendor is to protect its own franchise, and that's why I think you'll see the router companies (Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), especially) continue to champion the packet side of packet/optical, while the optical companies will emphasize router bypass.
When I chatted briefly with Finnie, he seemed to realize that his coalition probably won't happen. But in defending his idea during the panel, he pointed out that not every equipment vendor can get their way. "Someone's got to give up something someday. You can't all be king of the hill forever."
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading