Yesterday’s news of Alcatel-Lucent attempting to gain share of the lucrative Core Router market with the introduction of the 7950 routing system is making things interesting. This new 7950 product line would be leveraging their market share in the edge routing market in order to compete with Cisco and Juniper for a share of the core market. The new 7950 system is claimed to have a 400 Gbps processor capable of handling 70,000 high definition video streams. While this capability is impressive it is also worth noting that it achieves this at a much lower rate of electrical power usage.
The question is whether this huge leap in capability and efficiency is enough to have the major telecoms consider a heterogeneous architecture with the new products coexisting with the incumbents or make the leap of faith to committing to the new Alcatel Lucent product line. No doubt Cisco and Juniper will have products in the pipeline as an answer but the timeline for these being released is uncertain.
One way that Cisco and Juniper can defend their shares is by developing the new products as backwards compatible with the installed base or, at a minimum to the system/backplane units being sold today. That is to say that the new blades/modules could be inserted in equipment/racks that their customers already own or are available today. Otherwise, a complete platform/architecture shift removes a barrier to entry for other companies like Alcate-Lucent. As an example, we recently observed a new T-Series Radisys 40G ATCA platform introduction where they had employed a flexible compatibility strategy. From what I understood, their customers could introduce the new blades while not having to mothball the older ones until all the slots were filled.Until the new Radisys products shipped, their customers could continue to expand their systems without worry that they would be rapidly obsoleted.
As VDC begins its exciting new research project looking at the Rich Media & Big Data markets we expect that there will be many interesting findings and these recent and anticipated new product offerings certainly are evidence of that.