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Redback, Cisco push out their BRAS

Jun 03, 20033 mins
Cisco SystemsWi-Fi

Redback  has announced plans to port its service management system (SMS) software to its edge policy enforcement box called SmartEdge. The combination of the two will give service providers the ability to aggregate customer traffic as it enters their networks and to apply service policies to it. Possible services include network-based URL filtering or VPNs.

The combination of SMS service features and the SmartEdge aggregation capabilities result in a single broadband remote access server (BRAS) to compete with comparable offerings from the likes of Laurel, Cisco and Juniper, says Ron Westfall, an analyst with Current Analysis.

He says he had been expecting Redback’s announcement since last fall. “It’s about time,” he says. Laurel, Juniper and Cisco have already laid legitimate claim to their own BRAS offerings.

Redback says its system architecture gives it the edge. Its gear can establish individual “circuits” to individual machines inside a customer’s WAN router. Each circuit can be associated with its own service context, such as URL filtering or no URL filtering. By associating circuits to contexts, the equipment reduces the processing needed to handle each packet, boosting performance, Redback says.

Redback also announced SmartEdge 400, a new hardware platform that is about half the size of its previous SmartEdge 800. “The SMS 800 was a little bit top-heavy for non-top-tier cities,” he says. He says he expects Redback to eventually phase out its SMS gear. “The economic realities of the service providers mean they don’t want a separate SMS box,” he says.

On the subject of separate boxes, Cisco is offering BRAS functionality on two distinct routing platforms — one optimized for ATM-centric aggregation, the other targeted at Ethernet. Vendors typically offer both applications on one router.

For ATM-centric environments, Cisco has added enhancements to its 10000 Edge Services Router (ESR) that doubles its session capacity and increases performance by 250%, the vendor claims. The enhancements include the PRE-2 route processor, which is intended to deliver line rate OC-48 performance for 40-byte packets and support up to 60,000 active simultaneous sessions.

Cisco also unveiled a single-port OC-48c/STM-16c packet-over-SONET line card for the router as an uplink to a Cisco 12000 series Internet router deeper in the service provider network.

For BRAS, the 10000 ESR features a Cisco-developed capability called auto-VC creation. This enables service providers to configure VCs with 10 to 12 lines of commands per “range” of sessions. Each range typically has 4,000 to 16,000 sessions.

This is in contrast to 15,000 lines of commands per range via manual VC configuration, Cisco says.

For Ethernet BRAS applications, Cisco introduced the multiprocessor WAN application module (MWAM) for its 7600 series router. The MWAM enables the 7600 to support up to 32,000 active simultaneous subscriber sessions when equipped with a single MWAM. A single 7600 chassis can house up to four MWAMs, Cisco says.

Through Cisco’s IOS software, a 7600 deployed for Ethernet aggregation can activate multiple services simultaneously per subscriber session via a feature called service selection gateway. Usually, a session per service would be required.

As for the two box solution for ATM and Ethernet aggregation, Cisco says it is protecting investments in the 7600 and 10000 by adding new functionality to installed platforms.

“The biggest cost is not in the acquisition of the box but in the operational cost,” says Enzo Signore, senior director of marketing in Cisco’s broadband cable business unit.

The PRE-2 is $36,950. The broadband aggregation feature software licenses for the 10000 start at $8,000. The software and products are available now.

The MWAM is $85,000. The MWAM feature software licenses start at $20,000. MWAM and its software will be available this month.