Start-up TiMetra Networks has at long last revealed the reasons why Alcatel plans to acquire the company.The three-year-old company unveiled its line of edge routers at SuperComm last week. The SR-Series Service Routers are designed to enable multiple services over an IP\/MPLS network, and guarantee service levels through exhaustive management routines.These management capabilities are what differentiates TiMetra's SR-Series from a wealth of competitive offerings from companies young and old, including Laurel Networks, Vivace Networks, Cisco and Juniper, analysts say.TiMetra unveiled three models of the SR-Series: the 20G bit\/sec SR-1, which occupies 1.5U of rack space; the 60G bit\/sec SR-4, occupying 1\/7 rack; and the 400G bit\/sec SR-12, occupying 1\/3 rack. All SR-Series routers utilize a common set of interface modules and small form-factor pluggable optics, which allows service providers to mix-and-match media types and optical reach on a per-port basis.The SR-Series supports Ethernet interfaces ranging from 10\/100M bit\/sec to 10G bit\/sec, and TDM-based interfaces from T-1\/E-1 to OC-192\/STM-64. The routers support densities of 600 Gigabit Ethernet or 960 OC-12\/STM-4 ports per rack.The SR-Series routers also feature a programmable chipset TiMetra calls Flexpath. Flexpath is a 10G bit\/sec processor set that enables service upgrades to be achieved in microcode, which eliminates the substantial costs of line-card replacements and truck rolls typically required with current generation routers.Flexpath supports the deployment of Ethernet, frame relay and ATM Virtual Leased Lines, RFC 2547bis BGP\/MPLS VPNs and Virtual Private LAN Services.But the coup de grace of the SR-Series is its operations, administration, management and provisioning (OAM&P) capability, analyst say. This allows providers to verify, manage and troubleshoot IP\/MPLS data services, which is a rarity in IP\/MPLS service provisioning, they say."It seems to be a sticking point with a lot of the service providers," says Roz Roseboro, an analyst at RHK in Chicago. "And it seems to be the one thing that differentiates (TiMetra)."Adds Kevin Mitchell of Infonetics Research: "It shows maturity of the technology by focusing on the management and provisioning as it's just a toy until a service provider can manage the box, provision services, and bill for them. Now the market will decide if they built the right box and if Alcatel can sell IP."Key OAM&P features of the SR-Series include:* Service Assurance tools to verify all aspects of a service, end-to-end.* MAC Ping and Traceroute tools to locate network paths to customer premise devices.* Service Mirroring to troubleshoot services and capture traffic without havingto overlay network analyzers or deploy technicians to remote POPs.This set of OAM&P functions are embedded in the SR-Series logic and can be activated through a command line interface or via TiMetra's Management System (TiMS). TiMS also provides centralized provisioning, fault management, network and service topology mapping, and service troubleshooting.The OAM&P capabilities of the SR-Series help enable and ensure per-service quality-of-service, accounting and billing, and provisioning and diagnostics, which allow providers to accurately support service level agreements, TiMetra claims.\u00a0The SR-Series is available immediately with list prices starting below $30,000. TiMS will be available in the third quarter, with list pricing starting at $60,000.TiMetra is in the process of being acquired by Alcatel. The acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter.