Juniper promises converged switch for providers

Having come up with a new converged enterprise data centre architecture a week ago, Juniper Networks now says it can do the same for carriers and service providers.

The company said Wednesday its upcoming PTX Series Packet Transport Switch will be the heart of an end to end solution for the network cores of phone companies, cable operators and content providers pumping out Internet-protocol based voice and multimedia applications.

The PTX will do it by merging the optical and IP layers in the core onto a single multiplexed chassis to collapse network layers.

“This is a sea change in how carrier networks get architected,” said Tim Lambie, Juniper’s vice-president of sales for Canada, Central and South America, “in that it collapses the optical layer of the core.”

Expected to undergo customer trials in the third quarter and be on the market at the end of the year, the PTX combines Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and optical switching in a large chassis powered by a new Junos Express ASIC processor to give what Juniper says is a huge leap in throughput.

Initially the PTX will be able push through 480 Gigabits per second through each 10/40/100 Gigabit Ethernet slot, with the biggest model capable of a total of 3.8 Terabits per second. Multichassis configurations would be capable of much more, Juniper says.

The first models will be the eight-slot PTX 5000 and the 16-slot PTX 9000. Pricing hasn’t been set yet.

Juniper estimates the saving of building a PTX-based transport core over a traditional two-layer design could be up to 65 per cent over the lifetime of the equipment (say, 10 years).

For years carriers’ optical cores have been built to handle point-to-point traffic such as voice calls. For IP data, a routed IP network is laid on top of that. However as packet data has soared, traffic is going to many end points such as smartphones, laptops and tablet computers.

It’s not only traditional data that’s going up, Lambie added. Carriers are increasingly offering IPTV over their networks as well, he pointed out. To be able to push this data through the core means a new architecture is needed, he said.

But Lambie admits Juniper will have a lot of convincing to do.

“The challenge carriers have, service providers have — and to some degree this product has — will come from the fact that there will be hesitance for historical reasons for collapsing these networks when they’ve been built separate. I think everybody will agree that it’s an extraordinarily important thing to do and that economies are required, but the political will [in carriers] in some cases to collapse the architecture will be more of a challenge than any other [technology] roadblocks that might be in the way.”

Zeus Kerravala, senior vice-president of research at Yankee Group, agrees converging the network is necessary. Devices like smartphones and laptops don’t have a lot of horsepower on their own, he said in an interview, so provider networks need to be more intelligent.

That’s why chipsets like the Junos Express and Cisco Systems Inc.’s QuantumFlow are important to next-generation network equipment design, he said.

He also doesn’t doubt competitors will soon have their own converged transport switches to compete with the PTX series.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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