Juniper expands scope of T router series

Juniper Networks Inc.'s latest router line, which bowed in April in the form of the T640 router for the core of service provider networks, moves toward the edge with the smaller T320 platform announced Tuesday.

The T320 brings fresh technology to Juniper's lineup for aggregating connections from the network edge, allowing carriers to pack more ports into less rack space than with Juniper's M series routers while setting up more queues for giving special treatment to different kinds of traffic. Those service providers using M series routers can reuse the physical interface cards (PICs) from that platform as well as all the software features they use now, said Kevin Dillon, director of product marketing.

The new router is designed as a tributary to the T640 for applications such as service-provider peering, high-capacity data center hosting, and the aggregation of broadband, IP VPN (Internet Protocol virtual private network) and metropolitan-area Ethernet connections. For example, the T320 could be used as the aggregation device for broadband traffic from the ERX series of edge routers, which Juniper acquired through its recent purchase of Unisphere Networks Inc., Dillon said.

The T320 has a total throughput of 320G bps (bits per second), compared with the T640's 640G bps. Each T640 system also is equipped to be joined with other T640s as one virtual router built around Juniper's future TX interconnection platform, a capability for the core that is not built in to the T320.

The T320 chassis takes up one-third of a standard equipment rack and can accommodate 16 OC-192 (10G bit-per-second) or 10-Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. Befitting its edge aggregation role, the T320 also can accommodate smaller interfaces. Those include ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) and SONet (Synchronous Optical Network) interfaces at OC-3 (155M bps) and OC-12 (622M bps), as well as Gigabit Ethernet. For those connections, carriers can reuse interfaces from the M series and install them in the T series blades.

The availability of common PICs as well as software across the T series is a big benefit to international IP network provider Verio Inc., which plans to use T320s to aggregate edge traffic in some metropolitan areas. The company currently uses T640s for that purpose in some locations. The T320s will be used in facilities where less capacity is required or where not as much space or power is available, such as in Verio's Los Angeles site.

Being able to use the same components in both platforms helps Verio save money and keep its network running, said Peter Schoenmaker, an IP network development engineer at Englewood, Colorado-based Verio.

"We stock all our own spares in case we have hardware failures. By having commonality across the platforms, we save money," Schoenmaker said. Having the same JunOS routing software on both products also aids reliability and makes it easier to roll out new features, he added.

As investment in the core of carrier networks remains depressed following overbuilding in the late 1990s, equipment vendors are leveraging technology developed for the core in systems that can be used closer to the edge, said Michael Howard, principal analyst at Infonetics Research Inc., in San Jose, California.

Vendors such as Juniper also continue to integrate more functions from so-called service creation platforms, such as those introduced in the late 1990s by RedBack Networks Inc., into aggregation routers, Howard said. This allows service providers to simplify their networks and lower their costs, he said. With the new class of routers, broadband DSL (digital subscriber line) and cable modem networks won't require as many boxes between the customer and the carrier, and specialized services such as IP VPNs may be created inside a router.

"Eventually, carriers want a lot of functions in a single box," Howard said.

The T320 is available now, with prices starting at about US$150,000 for a basic configuration.

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