New Juniper box aims at massively scaling core routers

JCS 1200 is a separate modular chassis that makes it possible to scale the control plane hardware totally independent of the forwarding plane hardware

Juniper Networks is announcing a box that handles all the control plane traffic for its carrier-class T-Series routers, which the company says will make expanding the routers more efficient and will reduce the cost of deploying services over networks based on these routers.

The new JCS 1200 is a separate modular chassis that makes it possible to scale the control plane hardware totally independent of the forwarding plane hardware. This means that as new services are added to networks, enough control-plane processing can be added so the new service doesn't slow down existing services on the routers, Juniper says.

In the T-Series routers, the control and forwarding planes had separate processing power but were tied to the same chassis, leading to inefficient scaling in large networks where adding new services could mean contention for control-plane resources, Juniper says.

The new device enables adding either control or data-forwarding capacity independent of each other. Engineers can dedicate control-plane processing to new services and don't have to calculate whether shared processing is enough for the combination of new services plus existing services. Eliminating that calculation can cut the time needed to deploy new services by 25 per cent, Juniper says.

In networks that require many T-Series chassis, the control-plane modules in on a JCS 1200 could control individual forwarding modules in multiple T-Series chassis, says Glen Hunt, an analyst with Current Analysis. The routing and forwarding modules would then function as a single router dedicated to a particular service.

Hunt says the JCS 1200 addresses scaling problems that are just being encountered as providers offer higher and higher bandwidth services. Depending on the mix of services a provider offers, the amount of control plane processing vs. forwarding plane processing varies, and this architecture allows designating the appropriate amounts of each.

Large networks will be able to deploy services with less unused capacity, he says. "The operative word here is if your network is large enough," says Hunt.

Juniper's major competitor, Cisco, does not have a similar separate control-plane device, but does separate control plane functionality within its CRS-1 routers, Hunt says.

Entry level price for a JCS 1200 is about US$100,000, but prices vary depending on individual purchases and discounting, Juniper says. The device is available by mid-year.

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