Juniper, NSN’s integrated optics faces divided market

Juniper Networks (NASDAQ: JNPR) announced today it has integrated its core routers with Nokia Siemens Networks’ (NYSE:NOK, NYSE:SI) optical gear in an echo of the IP-over-DWDM architecture, deployed by Sprint and Comcast, that Cisco Systems introduced in late 2005.

Bringing the long-haul optical network straight into interfaces on the router eliminates the short hop that would otherwise be required from the optical gear to the router and the short-reach optical components on the router. Some carriers have questioned whether that cost benefit (and the benefit of having fewer things to manage) is worth the limitations such an architecture would place on their visibility into and management of the optical signal.

In Juniper’s case, the optical signal is managed not by Juniper’s platform but by NSN’s. (In fact, Juniper suggested it would go this route back in February when it announced optical interfaces for its core routers.) That management system is integrated with both NSN’s hiT7300 multi-reach DWDM gear and the 10GE DWDM cards on Juniper’s routers.

Still, though carriers such as Verizon and Qwest have expressed reservations about IPoDWDM, AT&T might be more open to the approach, according to Simon Leopold, an analyst with Morgan Keegan. “We believe some carriers such as AT&T seek the architecture offered by this partnership,” he wrote in a research note today, cautioning that the vendor duo’s attempt to integrate the system management could result in a multi-box solution. (See Juniper’s response in comments below.)

AT&T has historically been a customer of Siemens’ optical gear, theoretically giving Juniper a chance at some stickiness there. But when AT&T announced having deployed Cisco’s CRS-1 core router a couple years ago, it opted against the IPoDWDM architecture.

Meanwhile, Leopold said, other carriers like Verizon may opt to go in the opposite direction: pushing MPLS router functions into packet optical platforms for the long haul similar to Verizon’s use of the Fujitsu Flashwave 9500 in metro/regional networks.

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