Routing Software Advances

SAN MATEO (05/12/2000) - Furthering efforts to distribute Internet functionality to a variety of devices and offer an alternative to Cisco Systems Inc.'s dominant routing products, Nortel Networks Corp. has embedded its Open IP Environment routing software in IBM Corp.'s Power Network Processor, Nortel announced last week.

Nortel representatives said the company hopes its Open IP approach will help Internet-enable a variety of devices, including servers, network processors, set-top boxes, and PDAs (personal digital assistants). Nortel officials said that opening core routing capabilities to a wider field of developers and computer manufacturers can promote greater interoperability among network vendors and equipment.

Nortel's Open IP Environment was launched in November 1999. The initiative is intended to speed development of Internet applications and services by allowing developers to choose features based on variables such as device size and type, environment, and user needs.

Although this creates potential for a new generation of devices carrying routing functionality, tradi-tional routers will not be disappearing from the networks any time soon, said Jim Slaby, senior industry analyst at Giga Information Group Inc., in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"There is still plenty of room for hardware-based routers," Slaby said.

"Eventually, more and more functionality will get distributed and absorbed by other devices, but stand-alone routers will not go away," Slaby said. "A software-based IP routing approach won't take over completely for hardware boxes."

Nortel's initiative is largely seen as a competitive strike to thwart Cisco's dominance in enterprise routing, Slaby said.

"I see this as Nortel's attempt to blunt the impact of Cisco routing everywhere in the world. It will prevent Cisco from rolling completely over the enterprise," Slaby said. "Cisco has over 70 percent share in the enterprise marketplace. To counteract that, Nortel has to leverage its standards-based routing approach as an alternative to Cisco's IOS approach. Nortel says you can be assured of interoperability."

Nortel has established more than 200 licensing agreements for its Open IP Environment, putting its routing software in operating systems, semiconductors, and network processors.

Nortel's code has gone into Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 Server.

Version 2.0 of Open IP Environment, featuring enhanced QoS (quality of service) and security capabilities, will be released within the next several weeks, according to Nortel officials.

Nortel Networks Corp., in Brampton, Ontario, is at www.nortelnetworks.com. IBM Corp., in Armonk, New York, is at www.ibm.com.

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