Who is having core router problems?

Juniper Networks this week denied rumours that the OC-192c interface modules for its high-end M160 Internet core router are bug-ridden.

Rumours surfaced two weeks ago that Cisco Systems was swamped with requests for OC-192c field trials from Juniper customers experiencing problems. The rumours were fueled this week when a Cisco executive confirmed the company was seeing heightened interest in its upcoming OC-192c products from a competitor's customers.

Juniper is the only Internet core router vendor currently shipping OC-192c modules. Cisco is expected to ship its OC-192c cards for the 12000 GSR by mid-2001.

"We've seen an increase in requests for early field trials from customers now testing competitive alternatives, due to unforeseen operational challenges" in those products, Kevin Kennedy, senior vice president of Cisco's Service Provider line of business, told Wall Street analysts during Cisco's quarterly earnings call this week.

"We heard that rumour and we assume he wasn't referring to Juniper because we've been shipping to field trails since January, we've shipped production since March, we shipped some yesterday, we'll ship some today, we'll ship some tomorrow," says Brian Brown, director of product management at Juniper. "We basically don't have any problems with the OC-192 cards. I'm not sure where that's coming from."

The alleged problem lies in the modules' inability to balance incoming packet loads across multiple Internet Processor II ASICs, says sales personnel at Juniper competitors who claim to have been informed by Juniper customers. The result is that packet-processing performance is compromised, they say.

"That's not true, either," Brown says. "It works exactly as it's designed. We can achieve line rate forwarding with the IP II, we can achieve line rate filtering with that interface as well as all the other interfaces."

The competitor says Juniper has had to add a daughtercard to the OC-192c blades as an interim workaround to the load-balancing problem until its re-spins the ASICs. Brown denies that as well.

"That's absolutely, completely false," he says. "It's the same design, there's never been a ship hold, there's never been a redesign in that card. It's been working the same way since the day we started field trialing it. There've been no changes on the OC-192 card."

"That card is shipping, our customers are happy with it, we're not aware of any issues," Brown says. "So we're a little confused. We're thinking that [Kennedy] must have been referring to somebody else."

Avici Systems is another competitor to Juniper. The company is wrapping up its OC-192c field trials and will ship product "imminently," says Esmeralda Swartz, product marketing manager for Avici Systems. Swartz reports no problems with Avici's OC-192c product.

Foundry Networks is also attempting to gain some traction in the Internet core router market. The company plans to ship OC-192c on its NetIron routers in the first half of 2001, Foundry CEO Bobby Johnson recently stated during an earnings call.

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