Riverstone plans for MPLS

Riverstone Networks Inc.’s recent acquisition of startup Pipal Systems underscores the company’s strategy to utilize MPLS as the technical underpinning of the metro Ethernet aggregation capability of its routers.

Last month, Riverstone announced intentions to acquire Pipal, which employs 40 people and was founded in 2001 by engineers from Nortel Networks and Redback Networks. The company completed the acquisition on Jan. 3.

Still in the development phase when acquired by Riverstone, Pipal is working on Ethernet, MPLS and other technologies for broadband aggregation, including Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) and subscriber management.

Riverstone is remaining tight-lipped on its plans for Pipal’s technology, including the shape of upcoming products. The company will unveil more details this spring, promises Steve Garrison, director of corporate marketing.

“They are developing next-generation technologies that help us offer service-creation capabilities,” Garrison says. “It fits into our known focus of carriers and broader revenue bases,” such as large enterprises with carrier-class networking requirements, he says.

Riverstone announced plans to target the enterprise market last year as a way to lift sagging financial fortunes from carriers and service providers that cut back dramatically on spending and network buildouts.

Pipal’s founders and top managers have authored several IETF Requests For Comment on L2TP and subscriber management techniques, Garrison says. These, as well as Pipal’s other technical assets, were particularly appealing to Riverstone, he says.

“There are a lot of bright guys there, a lot of intelligence in that team,” Garrison says.

Like MPLS’s Draft Martini proposal, L2TP can be used to merge Layer 2 services – such as frame relay, ATM and Ethernet – into IP networks. L2TP is a “non-MPLS” way to integrate legacy Layer 2 with IP VPN (virtual private network) services and infrastructures; Cisco already offers L2TP on its routers for this purpose.