Nortel has yet another IP router play, and this time it thinks it has a winner.Nortel\u00a0has yet another IP router play, and this time it thinks it has a winner.The Multiservice Provider Edge 9000 platform\u00a0- codenamed \u201cNeptune\u201d\u00a0- is what Nortel calls a next-generation IP\/MPLS\u00a0service-converged edge system, as opposed to a router or a switch retrofitted to collapse Layer 2\/3 services for transport over an MPLS core.MPE 9000 features two models, scalable from 2.5G bit\/sec to 80G bit\/sec, targeted primarily at services such as IP-VPNs, Internet access, Layer 2 circuits over MPLS (Virtual Pseudo-Wire), any-media Layer 2 interworking, virtual private LAN and broadband aggregation. The MPE 9200 is targeted at small and midsize central offices and offers 20G bit\/sec of switching capacity in 5U of rack height. The MPE 9500 is designed for medium to large central offices. It provides 40G or 80G bit\/sec of throughput in 14U of rack space.Sounds like another multi-service router or switch, right? Nortel is very careful not to classify the MPE 9000 as either\/or.\u201cWe\u2019re not going after the router or switch business\u201d with the MPE 9000, says Sue Spradley, president of Nortel\u2019s Wireline Networks business unit. \u201cThis is a new category of device designed to go after the edge where services converge.\u201dIn other words, the same thing only completely different. Should Cisco, Juniper, Laurel Networks, Alcatel\/TiMetra, Tellabs\/Vivace and Lucent with its upcoming CBX 3500 beware?The thing that makes MPE 9000 \u201cvery unique,\u201d according to Spradley, is its carrier-grade DNA inherited from Mother Nortel. Features such as non-stop routing, hitless software upgrades and customer-specific service-level agreement configurations are the progeny of this DNA, she says.The system also runs a carrier-grade Linux kernel, borrows some softswitch technology from Nortel\u2019s Succession product line, and can be deployed in wireless as well as wireline data networks, Spradley says.And though she maintains Nortel is \u201cnot going after\u201d the router or switch business with the MPE 9000, Spradley admits Nortel \u201cstruggled\u201d over whether it can take on Cisco or Juniper in this space. Four previous attempts have failed.The result of this most recent struggle is a CLI Cisco and Juniper aficionados will be familiar with.Equant, Infonet and Telus are currently putting the MPE 9000 through trials. The product will ship in the fourth quarter.And the future of Nortel\u2019s Shasta IP service switch and Passport frame\/ATM switches for the edge are secure... for now. Spradley says the MPE 9000 will \u201ccomplement\u201d those products initially but become the \u201cvehicle of choice\u201d down the road.MPE 9000 is currently undergoing interoperability testing with Avici\u2019s TSR core router in Nortel labs in Ottawa, the company says.