Juniper Sets Its Sights on the Edge

Juniper Networks Inc. this week took its eyes off the Internet core long enough to push its routing technology out towards the edge.

The company announced two platforms, the M5 and M10, as its entry into the IP edge aggregation market. The M5 and M10 are designed to aggregate T-1, E-1, and channelized DS-1 and DS-3 circuits for access to the Internet core and serve as feeders into Juniper's existing M20, M40 and M160 Internet core routers.

The M5 is a four-slot chassis with an aggregate throughput of more than 6G bit/sec. The M10 is an eight-slot chassis with an aggregate throughput of more than 12G bit/sec. Each chassis is three rack units tall.

Both chassis house unique physical interface cards (PIC) from the M20, M40 and M160 that are also hot-swappable. PICs for the core products are not hot-swappable.

New PICs for the M5 and M10 include DS-1, E-1 and channelized DS-3 to DS-1. The DS-1 and E-1 cards feature four ports per PIC, while the channelized DS-3 to DS-1 cards sport 112 ports.

That means the M5 can support up to 16 T-1 or E-1s, and 448 channelized ports, while the M10 can sport up to 32 T-1s or E-1s, and up to 896 channelized interfaces. In a rack, the M5 sports 240 T-1 and E-1s, and 6,720 channelized links. The M10 can support up to 480 T-1s and E-1s, and 13,440 channelized interfaces.

The M5 and M10 also can be equipped with Juniper's existing Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, DS-3, E-3, OC-3 (ATM and packet-over-SONET), OC-12 (ATM and packet-over-SONET) and channelized OC-12 to DS-3 PICs. In addition, the M10 can run Juniper's single-port OC-48 packet-over-SONET PIC.

The products are designed to provide dedicated access to and from the Internet core and private IP, public ATM and frame relay, as well as circuit-based backhaul networks. The products also can form an OC-12 IP metropolitan-area network ring with OC-48 trunks to service provider, and regional and national backbone networks, Juniper says.

The M5 and M10 will go up squarely against Cisco's 7500 series routers and 10000 Edge Service Router. At 40 million packet/sec, Juniper claims the M5 and M10 have a tenfold performance and route lookup advantage over the Cisco boxes via the company's Internet II ASIC.

Unisphere and Amber Networks also are targeting the IP edge aggregation market.

Juniper can take advantage of its No. 2 market share in core routing to gain a significant share of the edge, and the scalability numbers are impressive, analysts say. But there are some shortfalls.

"The new platforms provide a very high density for IP service concentration," Current Analysis analyst Chris Nicoll writes in a report on the Juniper launch. But he adds that the M5/M10 routers don't provide for a redundant processor. "Systems that can impact thousands of users should be available in a redundant configuration," Nicoll remarks.

Nicoll also notes that the M5 and M10 don't provide the same level of protocol handling as the Cisco, Unisphere and Amber products, nor has Juniper developed support for MPLS-based services or differentiated quality-of-service features. This could limit the company's penetration into the broader multiservice edge router market, he states in his report.

Nonetheless, Juniper says six service providers, including Verio, are already using the M5 and M10.

The products are currently shipping. An initial system configuration for the M5 costs US$25,000 and $40,000 for the M10. Pricing for interfaces starts at $10,000.

Also this week, Juniper announced a new version of its JUNOS operating system software. JUNOS 4.1 adds rate limiting to the company's entire product line.

Rate limiting enables service providers to adjust bandwidth availability on a per-customer basis, rather than having to deploy DSU equipment to manually adjust bandwidth. This allows the provider to offer tiered and burstable-rate services to its customers, Juniper says.

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