• United States
Managing Editor

Juniper tries to grab edge from Cisco

Nov 10, 20033 mins

Juniper last week unveiled two edge routers designed to unseat older routers from rival Cisco that are already installed in service provider networks.

Juniper last week unveiled two edge routers designed to unseat older routers from rival Cisco that are already installed in service provider networks.

The M7i and M10i routing platforms are targeted at small and midsize points of presence (POP), campus networks and managed services environments that might be straining the performance and feature limits of Cisco’s 7200– and 7500-series systems. Juniper says the new routers let service providers turn up any feature or service without compromising performance – and the company contends the Cisco routers can’t offer the same.

At four slots and two rack units, the M7i chassis is Juniper’s most compact M-series router. It features integrated ASIC-based J-Protect security, which includes network address translation, Stateful Firewall, IP Security and J-Flow accounting.

The platform comes with a choice of two fixed Fast Ethernet interfaces or one fixed Gigabit Ethernet interface. The M7i can serve as a provider edge router in small POPs, and a customer premises equipment system for managed services and campus border router applications.

The M7i supports 16 million packet/sec performance, even with features such as IP/Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS) Provider Edge capabilities turned on, Juniper says. The company says Cisco’s 7200 and 7300 platforms only forward 1 million to 3 million packet/sec with a reduced set of features. Cisco declined comment.

The M10i is Juniper’s most compact platform. The eight-slot, 5U chassis features fully redundant routing engines, forwarding boards, power and cooling.

The M10i is targeted at the installed base of Cisco 7500s, which forward a maximum of 2 million packet/sec, Juniper says. But when certain features are turned on, service to other users is degraded.

Cisco’s upgrade to the 7500 – the 7600 Optical Services Router – also suffers from a service/performance compromise, and is missing some key MPLS Provider Edge functions.

The company also says service providers mixing Cisco and Juniper routers in their networks is common, despite the apparent inconsistency and incompatibility of features between Juniper’s Junos operating system and Cisco’s IOS.

“It’s very realistic” that service providers will yank out their 7200s and 7500s for the new Juniper routers, even though the rest of their infrastructure is Cisco-based, says Mike Capuano, senior manager for portfolio marketing at Juniper. “It’s happening all the time. We’re in a lot of mixed networks.”

One analyst disagreed.

“It’s not a common occurrence” for service providers to replace Cisco routers with Juniper platforms, says Ray Mota, analyst with Synergy Research. “To just go out there and rip them out . . . that will be a tough sell.”

Mota says service providers looking for a raw bandwidth boost might be inclined to evaluate the Juniper routers as replacements for the Cisco platforms. But the edge is where feature-rich services are defined and tuned. It’s also where service providers make their money, he notes.

So it’s unlikely that service providers will tinker with service consistency for the sake of a boost in raw throughput.

Both Juniper platforms support Physical Interface Cards from Juniper’s older M5 and M10 routers. List prices start at $15,000 for the M7i and $25,000 for the M10i.

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

More from this author