MPLS extension trend begins

June 17, 2004 Spokane Valley, WA, and Wallingford, CT -- World Wide Packets and Mangrove Systems earlier this week announced product lines that purport to extend MPLS capabilities from the network core into the metro/access space. While carriers are just beginning to implement MPLS in the core, both companies are betting that the metro/access space won't be far behind, Editorial Director Stephen Hardy reports.

Jun 16th, 2004

June 17, 2004 Spokane Valley, WA, and Wallingford, CT -- World Wide Packets (WWP) and Mangrove Systems earlier this week announced product lines that purport to extend MPLS capabilities from the network core into the metro/access space. While carriers are just beginning to implement MPLS in the core, both companies are betting that the metro/access space won't be far behind.

WWP is extending an existing product line, while Mangrove is making its product debut. The former announced two new additions to the LightningEdge product family, the LE-54v Access Portal and LE-311v Access Concentrator, that enable service providers to offer what WWP calls Virtual Private Services (VPS) delivered over Ethernet and/or MPLS. According to Vice President of Marketing Barry Kantner, the new boxes give carriers the ability to extend the services and capabilities of an MPLS core network directly to their business and residential subscribers. The boxes support VLAN services and up to 400 MPLS labels.

The LE-54V portal device offers two 1-Gbit/sec small-form-factor pluggable (SFP) optical Ethernet ports and eight 10/100 Mbit/sec copper subscriber ports. It serves as a customer service demarcation platform for ring-based topologies that offer maximum service protection. When deployed with a single 1-Gbit/sec optical Ethernet connection to the network, the second port can be configured as a subscriber interface.

The LE-311v is equipped with four 1-Gbit/sec SFP optical Ethernet ports, twenty-four 10/100-Mbit/sec copper subscriber ports, and one or two pluggable AC or DC power supplies in a one rack-unit enclosure. The device can be used as a shared demarcation point in multiple-tenant units, Kantner says. Depending upon the SFP optics employed, the LE-311v can be located as much as 120 km away from the edge aggregation system.

The LE-54v and LE-311v support any variant of LDP, RSVP, and BGP signaling protocols, enabling service providers to automate provisioning beyond the MPLS core switching platforms directly to the subscriber demarcation points. They support point-to-point, point-to-multipoint, and ring topologies, as well as CWDM. The company has developed hardened versions of the two devices, an important consideration for the independent operating companies WWP has begun to target, Kantner says.

The LE-54v Access Portal and LE-311v Access Concentrator will be available Q3 2004.

Meanwhile, Mangrove Systems has unveiled its MetroMPLS family, which includes:


  • The Piranha 100 Access Multiplexer, a compact, entry-level system for customer-located access to the MPLS core.
  • The Piranha 600 Access Concentrator, a larger, modular system designed for both customer-located and central office installations.
  • The Barracuda Enhanced Services Shelf, a central office hubbing and aggregation system designed to handle high volumes of channelized packet and circuit traffic arriving from the access network.
  • The Osprey Management System, a standards-based EMS/NMS platform designed to manage a network of Mangrove platforms. Osprey scales from a single-node, web-based embedded management tool to a full multi-server network management offering.

The systems combine Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) services, MPLS pseudowire capabilities, multi-service support, and other data-over-transport standards. For example, the Piranha P100 uses the MEF approach to provide E-Line and E-LAN service delivery; PWE3 pseudowire multiplexing for ATM, Frame Relay, IP, and MEF Ethernet UNI interfaces; and next-generation SONET GFP/VCAT packet transport for Ethernet, SAN, and PWE protocols. It also offers integrated CWDM capabilities.

According to company President and CEO Jonathan Reeves, Mangrove's approach emphasizes packet switching, rather than the transport emphasis of its competitors. The extensive use of PWE3 also differentiates Mangrove's approach from other offerings on the market.

While the Piranha 100 will work fine as a CPE device for carriers interested in delivering data services via their legacy networks, Reeves foresees carriers taking advantage of the Piranha 100 and 600 to provide an evolution to MPLS networking in the metro/access environment. Here, the Piranha 600 would work as a distributor in the central office handing off traffic from Piranha 100s to crossconnects, multiservice provisioning platforms, as well as MPLS switches. Similarly, the Barracuda device would complement optical crossconnects to provide access to the MPLS core.

To illustrate the ability to complement a variety of services, the company will demonstrate its equipment in conjunction with CPE devices from Larscom and Anda Networks. The Larscom units will help demonstrate Mangrove's ability to accommodate Ethernet over GFP/VCAT links, while the Anda equipment will be used for Ethernet over OC-3/X.86 and DS-3.

Reeves says that the Piranha equipment and Osprey network management system should enter lab trials by the third quarter of this year, with the Barracuda following by year's end. He believes that despite the relatively early days for MPLS deployment in the core, carriers will want to extend MPLS capability closer to the customer beginning next year.

More in Packet Transport