Juniper and packet optical transport

Eve Griliches/ACG Research
05 Jul 2010

We've said it before and we'll say it again -- a fundamental shift is occurring in the market that might just put router vendors in a better position to tackle the packet optical transport market. ACG Research noted as much in a market impact report on the Cisco/CoreOptics acquisition. Now, even some core Tier 1 telecom service providers are conceding that MPLS vendors are likely to be well positioned to address packet optical transport requirements over the next few years.

Cisco and Alcatel-Lucent are clearly making moves in this market, which makes us wonder what Juniper -- the No. 2 routing vendor in this space -- will do. Juniper Networks has some integrated optics available on its core routers, and it has a selling partnership with NSN. But neither of these factors will position the company competitively moving forward.

Juniper has two major options regarding the packet optical transport market:

  • It can dismiss the optical competition (and potentially subject the company to long-term market erosion) and focus more on the enterprise and its relationship with IBM.
  • Or it can jump into the competition. We're urging the company to jump in feet first; the water is warm!

To compete in this market, Juniper clearly must make an acquisition. Juniper does not have in-house development capabilities and, perhaps more importantly, it lacks internal optical expertise to assemble a system-level product, even if it purchased multiple optical pieces separately.

Given these factors, what, then, does Juniper need? Juniper must have a 100G DWDM optical networking transport solution and a ROADM (reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexer). 100G technology is of strategic importance because it provides advanced signal processing and the ability to implement these techniques in silicon to overcome major fiber impairments. A 100G ASIC requires expertise in high-speed analog and mixed-signal design that most DWDM vendors do not have.

A ROADM can be purchased from optical communications vendor JDSU or on a blade from another system vendor, but to design a full packet optical transport product with an appropriate FCAPS framework and EMS features compatible with a carrier's mode of operation is still a big challenge for any vendor in the market.

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