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Alcatel-Lucent’s New Core Router: Contender or Pretender?

Cisco in the Hot Seat Addressing Alcatel-Lucent’s  Core Network Offering

Service provider core networking has been a very difficult market segment for technology providers to penetrate based on its importance to global service providers and because it requires costly, ongoing innovation and investment to meet ever-changing customer requirements. While many vendors have attempted to enter this market – Avici and Caspian Networks come to mind – most have failed. In fact, Alcatel introduced a product in this space in the 2000s with the 7770. It was unsuccessful and ultimately discontinued.

While Cisco continues to be No. 1 in the core, we are not sitting on our hands by any means.  In fact, our innovation engine is in high gear, and we are confident that we’ve got the right strategy to lead our customers into the next decade and beyond. Our architectural approach was designed to enable the best delivery of video and mobility by leveraging the network intersection points of the cloud, network, and client.

Recently, Alcatel-Lucent made its second foray into core networking, a move many industry insiders viewed as a short cut by the company, which essentially upgraded its edge routing platform and relabeled it as a core networking product.  Simply put, it’s an edge router claiming to be a core router.

The rapidly evolving and complex core network is moving toward a single converged core, ultimately combining IP and optical technology. Hence, service providers require one future-proof core network –not two cores, as in a “core” and a “metro core” as Alcatel-Lucent describes it. There’s only one core. Most importantly, technology vendors need to understand customer needs –the core cannot be shut down; it must continuously operate and likely be in place for 10 to 20 years, without ever being “ripped and replaced.” Consider the limitations that have been imposed on existing Alcatel-Lucent 7750 systems – you basically get “lowest common denominator” performance if you mix and match older and newer line cards, so you’re eventually forced to upgrade everything.

This does not happen with the Cisco CRS. In fact, very recently one of the largest network operators in the world upgraded to multi-chassis CRS without any traffic loss.

Perhaps “Rethink the Core” is really “Recycle the Edge”?

Listen to Ray Mota of ACG Research put Cisco’s Sanjeev Mervana on the ”Hot Seat” about the requirements of the core and Alcatel’s latest attempt to enter this critical market.

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