Core can wait

Juniper Networks' recent announcement of enhancements for the edge of service provider networks was a bit of an anticlimax given the industry scuttlebutt and anticipation of the company's next-generation core router.

Industry speculation on Juniper's next-generation core - referred to by competitors as 'Gibson' - has been circulating for about a year now, ever since Cisco Systems Inc. announced shipment of its 320G-bit/sec fabric for the 12000 series routers. Alas, we'll have to wait a little longer for Gibson, which some expect to appear in the third quarter. The edge takes center stage for now.

Juniper rolled out several hardware and software enhancements, including a new platform and some high-availability routing features, in an effort to offer service providers a "trusted" edge - one that scales resiliently and securely, while maintaining sessions even when routing protocols are being restarted.

The enhancements include:

A four-port multichannel DS-3 Physical Interface Card and a channelized E-1 PIC.

JUNOS software additions to enable Layer 2 VPNs (virtual private networks).

A hardware encryption PIC to construct secure VPN tunnels.

JUNOS software extensions to maintain data forwarding as routing protocols reboot.

And a new router, the M40e, with density improvements and hot-swappable PICs.

The rollout is similar to an announcement from rival Cisco last fall that sought to scale core IP services and features down to the edge. But Juniper still has some work to do, according to some analysts who were not exactly on the edge of their seats with Juniper's trusted edge.

"Juniper is essentially playing catch-up [in terms of advanced IP service support] with its closest rivals in the edge routing market," says Eric Keith, Current Analysis analyst, in a recent report. "Juniper has not addressed the greater issue of chassis density/scalability shortcomings vs. rival edge routing platforms."

However, Juniper needed to add advanced IP service delivery capabilities to its router portfolio to compete effectively with its chief rivals, as well as expand its PIC portfolio to fulfill the needs of service providers looking to deploy multimegabit access services, Keith states.

The Gibson watch continues

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