What happened at NXTcomm08

Recuperating from the big show, here are some reflections on some of the more prominent themes amid activity at the show:

As I mentioned earlier, there was a slew of new carrier Ethernet gear focused on wireless backhaul and enterprise data. In addition to those mentioned here, new products in this area were unveiled by Actelis and Adva. This is no surprise, since there’s a lot of interest in carrier Ethernet for wireless backhaul but not much deployment so far.

One of the more interesting trends was the embrace of carrier Ethernet among equipment vendors that thus far have been vocal supporters of alternative technologies. Fujitsu Network Communications, which only a year ago said its new packet optical networking platform would focus on MPLS and pseudowires because PBB-TE was not mature enough, last week called PBB-TE the “ideal” metro transport technology, adding support of it to the Flashwave 9500. (They also confirmed this week what we’ve suspected for months, that Verizon has deployed the MPLS-based 9500.)

Redback Networks, well-known as an IP/MPLS equipment vendor, announced new carrier Ethernet gear in advance of the show.

We also saw Alcatel-Lucent, a vocal proponent of Layer 3 IP/MPLS, embrace Provider Backbone Bridging, a Layer 2 technology, to help scale MPLS-based VPLS in metro networks. Alcatel-Lucent has had success combining IP/MPLS with carrier Ethernet at the edge, but it hasn’t warmed up to PBB-TE. And so its embrace of PBB, which is essentially a superset of PBB-TE and targets some of the same problems of scaling complexity, is interesting.

All this stuff further reinforces the incontestable value of Ethernet, but it also provokes questions about just how far vendors of Layer 3 technology will shift their mix toward Layer 2 over time.

Another trend at the show was a new breed of network management gear focused on maintaining quality of service, upholding service level agreements and maximizing network utilization efficiency. Some new startups in this space made their first appearance at the annual show, including Zeugma Systems, Ethos Networks and Gridpoint Systems. We also saw new gear in this space from Accedian Networks and Alcatel-Lucent, which added new functions to its service router aimed at giving consumers more choice in the performance of their broadband services. This evolution in QoS will create not just more sophistication in carrier services but much greater diversity, which — I argued here — could well give rise to a new vocabulary in broadband offerings.

My favorite moment at the show? Hmm. Maybe Ericsson’s Peter Linder talking about the possibilities of pet care in bundled telecom offerings.

The week had lots of other highlights, of course, though most of them happened outside the show itself. You know what they say about “What happens at NXTcomm…”

For those of you who attended, what did YOU find most interesting? And what hilarious antics do you recall from those crazy NXTcomm nights? Please post below.

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