Alcatel gets serious about IP with ACEIS

In a move to bring voice-like reliability to IP networks, Alcatel SA last month introduced a new technology that will be added to its family of IP core routers and switches later this year.

The new technology delivers continuous routing operations for the BGP, IS-IS, and OSPF protocols – three Internet protocols that most routers use to communicate among each other – and has been dubbed Alcatel Carrier Environment Internet System, or ACEIS (pronounced axis).

Alcatel, of Paris, believes the new technology is a first of its kind and will enable service providers to better monetize their IP network investments. Alacatel’s belief is that improved reliability in IP routing will encourage and enable carriers to provide more services and applications over IP, such as IP VPN services.

“We are bringing carrier-class reliability to IP networks,” said Vinjay Rathore, Alcatel director of strategic marketing, broadband networks for Alcatel. “Customers can’t tolerate downtime on their wide area IP networks; they’re not delivering some services due to the ‘best effort’ nature of IP.”

Keith Allan, assistant vice-president of marketing for the broadband networking division at Alcatel, explains that industries such as financial services and brokerages are building out their own networks due to the fact that IP is at times unreliable. He explains that IP providers want performance and reliability equal to what they get from their voice equipment. He adds that carriers desire equipment that will achieve 99.999 per cent uptime, or “five nines” reliability.

The new technology will be a software upgrade to the company’s entire line of IP routers, but starting with the Alcatel 7770 Routing Core Platform and 7670 Routing Switch Platform later this year.

Alcatel claims to be the only company to have demonstrated non-stopping routing. Last month, it demonstrated the technology to several analysts, including Mark Seery, a networking and switching program director at RHK, a San Francisco-based networking consultancy.

“This is an important announcement for Alcatel and the industry,” said Seery. “It is an indicator of how vendors in the ATM space are migrating to IP services.”

Seery added that Juniper Networks Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., and Cisco Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif., will be going down this road in the future, but probably with different approaches. Today both offer technologies that mimic non-stop routing via fully redundant switching and employ “graceful restart” technologies that minimize downtime.

Seery said the new technology is a significant benefit for Alcatel’s existing customers of their mobile, voice and broadband equipment customers and may be of interest to others if the company can demonstrate the technology on a large scale.

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