Nortel boosts Bay ARN, routing code

Wirespeed routers may be one of the sexiest sells in networking today, but that doesn’t mean older software-based routers are going away. Vendors continue to roll out upgrades, modules and even new models to satisfy customers who don’t need the speed and functionality of a wirespeed router and can’t get by with a mere remote access server.

Nortel Networks’s most recent additions to its Bay Networks router portfolio include a Multiserial Expansion Module for the Advanced Remote Node router and a new release of its BayRS routing code.

According to Bob Reason, group manager of router product marketing, the Multiserial Module should prove particularly popular with many Nortel customers.

“We’d been seeing requests for additional serial support capacity on our branch routers and the Advanced Remote Node is our primary branch router,” he said. According to Reason, there are thousands of installed Advanced Remote Nodes and sales of the product are still growing.

Prior to the module’s release, the most 128Kbps serial ports an Advanced Remote Node could support was three. By adding the module, users can push that total to seven.

Nortel’s latest BayRS, Version 13.10, has been spruced up with a number of enhancements.

Chief among these is support for the Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol (VRRP). VRRP is still awaiting final approval from the IETF. What the protocol does is allow users to designate a secondary router as the back-up to a primary router, and in the event of a primary router failure, all routing support can be picked up by the back-up.

Reason noted this feature was already available on Nortel’s routers, but worked only with other Nortel routers. With VRRP embedded in Nortel’s routing code, a Nortel router could now conceivably fail over to another vendor’s VRRP-compliant router.

Another BayRS addition is IPSec support for virtual private networks. Previously, the only Nortel products with IPSec were its Contivity Extranet Switches.

BayRS 13.10 also boasts increased support for the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol.

“Customers connected through their PCs into their LAN can get automatic assignment of IP addresses and we can host that functionality on the router,” Reason said.

While vendors won’t support older products that aren’t selling, they’re usually good at supporting items that still have good sales and a large installed base, noted Toronto-based IDC Canada Ltd. analyst Dan McLean.

He used the Cisco 7000 series software-based router as an example. The 7000 continues to enjoy solid sales, despite the appearance of the cheaper and faster ASIC-based Cisco 8500 series, and therefore continues to get great support, McLean noted.

“It would be dumb for a vendor not to provide that kind of support, because they’re looking at the long-term kind of sale,” McLean said. “They want to maintain their customers.”

Nortel Networks in Brampton, Ont., can be reached at 1-800-466-7835 or at