Nokia kills Amber Networks router

Nokia Corp. has discontinued an edge router it obtained from the US$421 million acquisition of startup Amber Networks Inc. two years ago.

The company will no longer develop or market its ASR 2020 edge router due to lack of demand, a Nokia spokeswoman confirmed. Instead, Nokia will offer Redback Networks' SmartEdge 800 device under an OEM arrangement.

Nokia purchased a 10 percent stake in Redback last year and has an option to increase that stake to 20 percent.

"We didn't see it worthwhile to continue investing in (the ASR 2020) market development, demand development," the spokeswoman says. "And we have this cooperation with Redback Networks."

"The product, despite early potential, faced extremely high odds in muscling into the edge router market, currently dominated by Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks," states Current Analysis Analyst Joe McGarvey in a report issued last week on the ASR 2020's demise.

The ASR 2020 was a four-slot, 3U chassis designed to aggregate ATM, frame relay, TDM and IP services at the edge and forward them over IP and MPLS paths. It supported more than 10,000 T-1s per telco rack.

The ASR 2020's differentiator was its fault-tolerant operating system, AmbOS. The router could provides 99.999 percent reliability and fault-tolerance by immediately rolling route processing over to the standby control plane, virtually eliminating IGP and BGP reconvergence and providing recovery in less than 50 milliseconds, Nokia officials claimed a year ago.

This is in contrast to the five-to-10-minute recovery time of current edge routers, the officials claimed.

Nokia still plans to use the ASR 2020 and AmbOS technology as the basis of fault-tolerant edge routing for a 3G mobile wireless IP gateway under development called FlexiGateway, the spokeswoman says. Redback's SmartEdge 800 will be offered for fixed network edge routing and subscriber management, she says.

Redback last year mentioned that it is involved in Nokia's development of its next-generation Gateway General Packet Radio Services Support Node (GGSN) for mobile wireless IP networks. A GGSN provides the interface between a General Packet Radio Services network and an IP network.

The ASR 2020 was to be the first in a line of fault-tolerant routers Nokia planned to roll out for 3G wireless initiatives, a Nokia official said a year ago. The company planned to unveil a higher-density, higher-performance version of the ASR 2020, he said at that time.

"Nokia now has nothing to show (at least in the wireline edge aggregation space) for a US$421 million acquisition it made less than a year and a half ago," states Current Analysis' McGarvey. "On the other hand, Nokia has a viable alternative in the SmartEdge 800 to fill the hole left by the discontinuation of the ASR 2020."

The Amber acquisition appears to have been Nokia's second aborted attempt to offer an IP router that it owned. Nokia bought IP switching company Ipsilon in late 1997, but it's not clear if Nokia did anything with that technology.

Nokia also relied on Cisco for core network routers in turnkey systems, but Redback says it is looking to discontinue that relationship.

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