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Managing Editor

Avici’s legacy at the edge

Jun 02, 20033 mins
RoutersSystem Management

ATLANTA — At Supercomm 2003 this week, Avici Systems unveiled a series of linecards for its routers designed to enable carriers to converge multiple services over their IP/MPLS networks. 

The programmable Multi-Service Connect (MSC) modules are based on Intel’s IXP2400 network processors and feature a so-called “Any Service Any Port” capability that allows carriers to configure the linecard to support ATM, frame relay, packet-over-SONET/point-to-point protocol, or MPLS through software. This is intended to maintain a carrier’s existing  ATM and frame relay access network as they migrate their core from ATM to IP/MPLS to eliminate the cost and complexity of multiple parallel backbone networks, Avici says. 

The software programmability of the MSC enables the linecards to support a range of interfaces and service types. Traditional linecard technology requires a linecard to be dedicated to each specific service or interface. 

A handful of other young router/switch companies have also introduced the “Any Service Any Port” concept, especially at the edge. Laurel Networks claims that its ST200 edge router provides this capability for flexible configuration, depending on service type; and Vivace Networks touts the “Any Service on Any Interface on Any Channel at Any Time” software programmability of its Viva edge IP switches.

“MSC allows carriers to eliminate the need for another box at the edge of the network to do the translation to an MPLS core,” says Joe McGarvey, senior analyst at Current Analysis.

McGarvey says the MSC is the third prong in a three prong Avici strategy to add features to its routers so they can eliminate aggregation routers at POPs; provide fault-tolerant routing; and now consolidate legacy services over an MPLS core.

“Carriers do need that reliability before tunneling legacy stuff across MPLS,” McGarvey says, referring to the role fault-tolerant routing plays in the MSC application.

The MSC runs on Avici’s Terabit Switch Router, Stackable Switch Router and Quarter-rack Switch Router platforms. The latter two have footprints more suited for edge or small POP applications, while the TSR is a core router.

“This solves an important strategic issue for Avici, which is, there’s a lot more demand at the edge of networks than at the core,” says Michael Kennedy, managing partner of consultancy Network Strategy Partners. “This gives them a product offering that will let them compete against Juniper (Networks).”

Avici hopes the MSC will raise its profile in edge and core routing. The company has less that 1% of the high-end router market while Cisco and Juniper combined account for a 92% share, according to first quarter, 2003, data from Synergy Research. Avici’s customers include AT&T and Qwest.

Avici is also facing new pressure from newer entrants into the core routing space, such as start-ups Procket Networks and Caspian Networks, and established vendors like Alcatel, which is making a strong push via its 7770 platform and recent acquisition of edge router maker TiMetra.

Managing Editor

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 28 years, 23 at Network World. He covers enterprise networking infrastructure, including routers and switches. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy and at

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