Alcatel-Lucent Aims at Juniper, Cisco with New Core Router
Alcatel-Lucent is aiming straight between the eyes of Cisco and Juniper with its latest family of Internet core routers. The new routers intend to address the major shifts happening across global networks.
Dubbed 7950 XRS, the new routers allow network operators to go with the flow of rapid adoption of cloud applications, the explosion in video traffic and the mainstreaming of smartphones and tablets and prepare for the next decade of growth.
Basil Alwan, president of Alcatel-Lucent's IP Division, is using some aggressive words that Cisco and others in the Internet core router space would likely dispute -- words like "revolutionizing the network core." But Alwan is right about one thing.
"Core networks are evolving at an unbelievable pace, with IP backbones and 'metro' cores facing a host of new requirements," he said. "The core router platform of the future needs to be able to efficiently deliver enormous capacity, and do so without sacrificing the intelligence and capabilities needed to support an expanding variety of content and applications."
A Future-Minded Router
The 7950 XRS is based on a compact system design that Alcatel-Lucent said is built with the future in mind. The flagship of the family, the 7950 XRS-40, supports 32 terabits per second (Tbps) capacity and 160 100-gigabit Ethernet ports. The router taps the latest techniques in silicon and system design to drive down power consumption by more than 66 percent compared with typical core routers, according to the company.
Alcatel-Lucent is pushing one message with its new product: traditional core routers have lacked performance and 100GE density, and recent alternatives have compromised on features and flexibility in an attempt to improve performance and density. With 100-Gbps links increasingly serving as the foundation of IP transport networks -- and with 400-Gbps and 1-Tbps links on the horizon -- the firm said 7950 XRS helps respond to demand.
"Verizon is experiencing tremendous growth in metro Ethernet services. Platforms such as the Alcatel-Lucent 7950 XRS will help us efficiently scale to support higher speeds and new capabilities while offering efficiency and flexibility," said Ihab Tarazi, Vice President of Global IP and Transport Planning and Technology, Verizon. "We applaud Alcatel-Lucent for its bold approach to router value and performance."
Should Juniper Be Worried?
We caught up with Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, to get his take on how Alcatel-Lucent's new core router fits into the competitive landscape. He told us he's not so sure it competes head-to-head with Cisco, but could get Juniper's attention.
"The router market for a long time has been a duopoly. It's Cisco-Juniper dominated. The share gains Alcatel-Lucent has had with its edge routers have failed to live up to the product quality," Kerravala said. "So it just goes to show the power of the incumbency when it comes to routers for telcos."
A fundamental believer in the concept that market share change only comes with market transitions, Kerravala sees an opportunity for Alcatel-Lucent is the transition to LTE and voice over LTE (VoLTE). That's because LTE is based on IP, and router infrastructure becomes vital.
"The one unique thing that Alcatel-Lucent can bring to the table is an end-to-end mobile wired story where they can provision a network now from the core of the network all the way out to the radio edge," Kerravala said. "In fact, they will provide all the services to get it up and running. Juniper's MobileNext has yet to pick up any traction. Alcatel-Lucent's core router could be in the mobile networks where Juniper is today."