Juniper unveils next M-series router

Juniper Networks this week is expected to usher in the next generation of its M-series router line with a 120Gbps multiservice edge system designed to improve redundancy and Ethernet service "awareness" for business applications.

The M120 is targeted at a range of service provider customers, including wireline, mobile, ISP and cable multiple system operators. Customers need advanced QoS for customizable service-level agreements, enhanced redundancy for improved uptime, and 10Gbps interfaces for high-bandwidth applications such as "multiplay" -- bundled voice, data, video and wireless, Juniper says.

The M120 features a quarter-rack chassis populated with a range of Juniper interfaces, including the Ethernet service cards unveiled at Globalcomm last month ( Those modules are designed to enable service providers to provision Ethernet services with sophisticated QoS and traffic-management features through support for oversubscription and hierarchical queuing capabilities for services such as virtual LAN/transparent LAN, Layer 2/3 VPNs and VoIP.

The chassis supports four full-sized flexible physical interface card concentrators and two compact flexible PIC concentrator (FPC) slots, each capable of 10Gbps. FPCs provide the processing horsepower for the physical interface cards (PIC), and on the M120 they can accommodate one to four PICs.

The two compact FPCs are a new feature for Juniper M-series routers. They do not hold PICs, but are designed for optional 10Gbps Ethernet or OC-192 WAN interfaces to connect to other routers or switches.

The M120 also features a new ASIC designed to increase scalability, enhance QoS and improve support for a number of features. The I-chip supports 100,000 to 256,000 logical interfaces, growing routing tables, application-specific QoS for delay sensitive traffic such as voice and multiplay, and improved multicast for IP TV.

Analysts say the M120 gives Juniper a leg up, for now, in multiservice edge routing.

"Ten gig is what carriers are looking for today," says Eve Griliches of IDC. "And they can do one-to-one redundancy but it's ridiculously expensive. To take up one slot and have all other [slots] fail over to it is huge."

As for the number of logical interfaces supported by the I-chip, Griliches says it is "not clear those capabilities are built into a lot of other routers yet."

On the downside, Juniper has to fill out its carrier Ethernet offerings, she says. The Ethernet service cards and the M120 capabilities provide a compelling router density and service awareness offering, but Juniper still lacks a Layer 2 carrier Ethernet switch for aggregation in IP TV and multiplay applications.

The lack of a strong Layer 2 and, until now, high-density Layer 3 Ethernet presence has shown in Juniper's dearth of carrier Ethernet market share, Griliches says, and let Alcatel leapfrog Juniper in certain segments of edge applications. But the company is recruiting Catalyst switch engineers from Cisco, and is expected to unveil an Ethernet aggregation switch before year-end.

"It is hurting them a bit," Griliches says of Juniper's relative lack of Ethernet presence. "Obviously, they're so late right now . . . but they don't want to throw something out there that's not pretty well baked."

The M120 will cost US$100,000 to US$250,000. It is set to be available in October -- perhaps when that Ethernet switch arrives.

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