Juniper Broadens Metro Ethernet Switch Line

New switch and router options help Juniper play catch up with its rivals.

Juniper Networks on Sept. 25 fleshed out its Ethernet switch and router line for carrier Metro Ethernet networks when it added a pair of new, smaller chassis switches and new software features.

Juniper sought to build momentum with its tardy MX-Series Ethernet edge aggregation product line, first launched in October, by giving service providers greater flexibility in port density and size.

Although Juniper officials acknowledged that it is playing catch up with Cisco Systems and Alcatel-Lucent with the MX-Series, it makes up in features and functions what the line lacks in first-mover advantages, said David Boland, product marketing manager for Juniper in Westford, Mass.

"Cisco and Alcatel were first to market with first-generation technology. We feel we have a third-generation carrier Ethernet platform that scales and has performance well above existing competition. We have more port density, processing power and a smaller footprint than Cisco," Boland said.

"We have two to three times as many ports, two to three times as much processing power than older platforms and with less cooling and power required. And it allows us to put more capacity in a smaller rack space," he said.

Competitively, Juniper is playing catch up, but theyve done a good job of giving carriers and service providers greater flexibility, said Mark Seery, vice president of switching and routing research at Ovum RHK in Gilroy, Calif.

"Now the platform is more flexible than Alcatel. It supports native Ethernet and Ethernet over [Multi Protocol Label Switching]. It gives carriers some flexibility about what architectures they can deploy," he said. "The other thing is that to get to the lower cost product from Alcatel, you have to select a different platform. Juniper is doing it with different cards in the system. Thats more flexible," he added.


Read more here about the MX-Series launch.

The new MX240 provides 240G bps of switching or routing capacity, while the new MX480 provides 480G bps. The two respectively support 120 and 240 Gigabit Ethernet line cards in a five-rack unit or 8 RU form factor. The pair of mid-range platforms extends the original MX960, which provides 960G bps of aggregate capacity in a 16 RU form factor.

What gives the new chassis greater port density and performance are a series of new line cards Juniper also launched that are optimized for the whole MX-Series family.

The new Dense Port Concentrator line cards include a new switching and routing card that provides either Layer 3 routing or Layer 2 switching, a Layer 2 switching card optimized for metro Ethernet transport services and a QOS (quality of service card) that allows carriers to offer business Ethernet services with committed bandwidths and QOS features.

"They provide fine-grained queuing for customer traffic. Each card can support 64,000 individual queues," said Boland. "Most Ethernet switches or routers support eight queues per card. The carrier could use that any way they want. Network control traffic can be on one queue, carriers could use them for reserving queuing for individual enterprise customers or for residential subscribers," he added.

Juniper also enhanced its Junos operating system used across its switch and router lines with new Layer 2 switching functionality, including Spanning Tree Protocol support.

The new MX480 and new line cards are available now. The QOS line cards are due in November, and the MX240 is due in the first quarter of 2008. The starting price for both chassis is $65,000.


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