Cabletron spinoff aims for next-gen carriers

Riverstone is the MAN.

That's one thought Riverstone CEO Romulus Pereira would like metropolitan-area network service providers to have when choosing their data communications platform.

Pereira says Riverstone is using Gigabit Ethernet and 10-Gigabit Ethernet to supercharge the MAN backbone, while still offering next-generation service providers the choice of other transport options such as ATM.

"The previous generation of metro spaces had service problems in terms of infrastructure bandwidth and the ability to deliver rich content and very bandwidth-hungry content," Pereira says.

With more last-mile fibre being laid and national net core backbones coming online, the bandwidth bottleneck is shifting to the space "in the middle of the sandwich" where the demand for hosting and content services is emerging at a rapid rate, he says.

Riverstone is marketing its line of RS 2000 and RS 8000 switch routers and the RS 32000 with up to 240 Gigabit Ethernet ports to competitive local exchange carriers and others that offer converged services to the MAN.

Each switch provides multiple WAN interfaces, including 10-Gigabit and Gigabit Ethernet, ATM, packet over SONET/ SDH, ATM, T-1 and T-3/E-3 interfaces, giving service providers several ways to deliver services to customers.

However, Pereira says the key to the MAN will be the ability to sell and manage bandwidth between customer premises that emulate dedicated lines via switched Gigabit Ethernet.

"If I'm a customer in the metro area and I happen to be in multiple buildings, it would be nice if my service provider could offer me guaranteed bandwidth with security" throughout the network, Pereira says.

Because Riverstone's boxes "slice and dice bandwidth in different ways", they give service providers "the ability to create the next-generation transparent LAN services, making the metro landscape look like a set of dedicated, point-to-point leased lines".

Pereira also wants to make Riverstone the end-to-end platform for application service providers (ASP) "in the basement (of customer buildings), in the hosting centre and in the infrastructure in between". The RS switch line can provide the traffic-shaping capabilities required to deliver bandwidth to applications ASPs lease out, he adds.

Ron Westfall, an analyst with IT research firm Current Analysis, says Riverstone's future in the MAN market could be bright, but some issues need to be addressed. Riverstone "still has to prove it can operate independently from the Cabletron corporate infrastructure", he says.

Westfall says Riverstone must partner with companies that sell to the net core and sell products that content service providers such as ASPs utilise.

In Australia, Riverstone's products are distributed by Cabletron (now Enterasys).

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