Cisco and Newbridge Networks outlined their respective terabit routing strategies on Monday to address service providers' insatiable appetite for higher IP networking speeds.
Newbridge announced it is beginning trials with two unnamed US and European service providers of its 670 Routing Switch Platform which the company claims is the first to scale from 50Gbps to 5Tbps. The product represents Newbridge's first system built specifically for the so-called carrier core network, as most of its products address both the core and the edge of the network.
The product news follows recent internal struggles at the company which culminated in the resignation of Alan Lutz, former president and chief operating officer, and the cutting of 10 per cent of its workforce.
Analysts believe this has harmed Newbridge's chances of gaining credibility in this burgeoning market, although the technology may be sound.
Jim Slaby, analyst with Giga Information Group, said: "There is a question of its viability - the company hasn't been that well managed and it has no proven expertise in the ISP [Internet Service Provider] space. It is crowding up against some large competitors that have already gained momentum here."
According to Newbridge, the 670 Routing Switch merges ATM with multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) and enables Newbridge to expand from its ATM base to other protocols.
Grace Carr, Newbridge's associate vice president of product marketing, said unlike the terabit systems that are being developed by the many startups in this market, the 670 can still be used today and grow with customers' needs. She does not believe service providers will begin deploying terabit technologies to their full potential for another few years, although the product will ship in the first half of 2000.
Meanwhile Cisco has upped the ante in the terabit market by unveiling its 12000 Terabit System that also scales to 5Tbps, and promised to ship new products for this market every 60 days for the next 12 months.
The key to Cisco's terabit strategy is its cross bar switch fabric architecture that will allow users to connect 10Gbps interface cards to reach terabit speeds.
The first component of this architecture that will ship this month is the 12016 GSR router that switches at 360Gpbs - faster than its current router which runs at 120Gbps. The product will also accept up to 15 STM64 or OC192c interface cards each running at 10Gbps, but trials of the cross bar technology will not begin for another year.
Slaby said Cisco's announcement helps to add weight to the company's claim that it can serve the service provider community. He said: "It proves that Cisco is more than just talk - now it is wading in. This delivers on the next level of performance," adding that startup Juniper and Cisco are the only companies that have products shipping.
According to IDC, the terabit switch routing market will be worth $1.4 billion in 2003.
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