This week, amid much fanfare, Juniper Networks Inc. (Mountain View, CA) announced production availability of its core router, the M160 Internet backbone router. According to the company, the M160 router is the industry's first platform to support 10-Gbit/sec (OC-192c/STM-64) circuits. Ready for immediate deployment in production networks, the M160 router delivers routing speeds four times higher than those previously available on the market, Juniper says.
Since each OC-192c/STM-64 interface connects to a clear channel 10-Gbit/sec circuit, says the company, a fully-loaded M160 router can handle 160-Gbit/sec throughput. In addition, the M160 router offers interface support including SONET/SDH, Gigabit Ethernet, ATM, and channelized OC-12 to DS-3.
Following the announcement, the telecom industry was abuzz with talk of what impact the new router will have on the battle between Juniper and Cisco Systems. Despite Cisco's position as the market leader, Juniper says that the M160 is twice as fast as Cisco's most comparable product.
"There's a tendency to want to focus on the David and Goliath of all this," says Scott Kriens, Juniper's CEO, "which is newsworthy, but not a focus of Juniper's. The market share figures at the end of last year were 82% Cisco and 18% Juniper, so the real competitive question is not will we succeed, or will Cisco succeed, but will anybody else from a standing start be able to jump on this train without falling underneath it?"
Competition between Cisco and Juniper and any other companies that crop up in that arena will most likely become a moot point, according to Fayad Abbasi, analyst for StreetAdvisor.com. "While we admit to being impressed with the speed gain and agree that Juniper will capture some business away from Cisco, the future of the center of the network lies in the optical realm," Abbasi says. "A migration to optical switches, such as those Nortel Networks is very busy trying to acquire or develop, will allow for management of the center of the network in photonics."
Meanwhile, Juniper has customers happy to scoop up the M160. The Uunet division of MCI WorldCom Inc. and Cable and Wireless, an international telecommunications provider, have already deployed the new product. Juniper also announced that GTE Internetworking , a unit of GTE Corp., plans to use the M160 router with OC-192c/STM-64 interfaces on part of its OC-192c/STM-64 network, and KPNQwest will deploy the routers in 15 major European cities.