NextHop Technologies Inc. and IBM are set to mate software and chips in a router platform that delivers programmable switching and routing for service providers looking to deliver advanced IP services.
Among obstacles to the wide deployment of new IP services is the Internets rapid growth. While router makers have churned out ever-more-sophisticated gear in recent years, Internet traffic has been expanding just as fast.
To get ahead of the game, NextHop is partnering its highly scalable routing software with IBMs NP4GS3 Network Processor and bringing the combo to router manufacturers for enterprise and service provider networks.
"One of the things service providers are struggling with right now is bringing new IP services to the enterprise market," said Christin Flynn, an analyst at The Yankee Group, in Boston. "There is a need in the enterprise market to do things like remote backup and enhanced security functions."
With the ability to provide faster, more reliable network connections, more service providers will be able to offer services such as voice over IP, said Ed Cluss, CEO of NextHop, in Mountain View, Calif. "None of the routers out there can hold the full route table of the Internet. Now, service providers will be able to manage their networks as subnets, partition less and reduce operations costs."
Last week, NextHop released Version 9.3 of its main product, GateD, which the company said has more than 10 times the scalability of its closest competitor. The software, which can handle millions of routes between service providers and large enterprises, has roots in the routing software used by the National Science Foundation network in 1987.
Because GateD is vendor-neutral, service providers can use it to increase the scale of their networks without replacing infrastructure.
According to IBM and NextHop, it took less than a week to port the GateD code to the IBM network processor, which the companies tout as a testament to the robust portability of the software and the development-friendly Linux environment of the processor.
"If you look at the network processor, its at the core of what enables the service providers," said IBM spokesman Cary Ziter, in Beacon, N.Y. "The network processor is really just starting to take on some steam. Nobody, including IBM, has the resources to meet every possible customer need. Agreements like this are getting more and more common because the demands of the customer are increasing."