Heavy Reading

The Future of Multiservice Switching in Converged IP/MPLS Networks

The multiservice switch (MSS) market has matured and stabilized over the years in response to the shifting mix of demands for corporate WAN and Internet services infrastructure, residential broadband aggregation and backhaul, and enterprise and government networking. Ultimately, however, the MSS market failed to deliver on one of its key promises: the lasting, all-encompassing networking paradigm once envisioned by the original cast of broadband ISDN gurus.

That promise unfulfilled, the MSS market is now slowly but surely giving way to the forces of IP and Ethernet. MSS suppliers must now make agonizing decisions about how to "evolve" their platforms to support requirements for IP and Ethernet in the remade multiservice edge (MSE) environment while remaining competitive with router vendors from a price/performance standpoint.

There's still plenty of life in the MSS market. MSSs can serve as a critical bridge between two worlds, supporting legacy applications and customers while providing the necessary hooks to enable the transition to new IP/MPLS core networks. Established suppliers of MSSs are leveraging their incumbency in large data networks, the sophistication and feature-richness of their platforms, and the stability of their management systems, while MSS newcomers are adding MPLS features such as pseudowire technology and the MPLS control plane to simplify the transition from legacy to next-gen.

Important challenges lie ahead for any supplier in this market. Enterprise customers are clamoring for cheaper communications services, and service providers are responding with a mix of Ethernet access and IP-based telephony and VPNs. The focus on convergence of services onto IP has so insinuated itself into the thinking of customers and service providers alike that most talk of multiservice switching sounds antiquated to their ears. Router vendors have their attention, so that within the same service provider, one can typically find advocates of an all-IP vision and a multilayer vision, all squabbling over turf, purchasing rights, and network roadmaps.

The Future of Multiservice Switching in Converged IP/MPLS Networks tracks this critical period of transition for the MSS market a transition in which the large incumbent equipment suppliers continue to support their traditional base of customers while pursuing emerging opportunities in wireless packet networking, packet telephony migration, and secure government and enterprise networking. The few newcomers to this space Ciena, Hammerhead Systems, and Mangrove Systems aim to exploit advances in silicon and software to create from scratch new, denser systems with modular software architectures that promise more cost-effective implementations, improved reliability, and economical scaleability. For both the incumbents and the new competitors, enabling carriers to migrate their networks to IP and MPLS and away from ATM is a primary method of positioning and differentiation.


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The report is based on extensive interviews with leading network operators and equipment manufacturers, as well as an exclusive online survey of 87 carrier professionals, representing nearly 75 different network operators worldwide, gauging their company's strategic plans for multiservice switches. Together, the direct interviews and survey results deliver deep insight into how carrier deployment of MSS technology is likely to change in the coming months as carriers move closer to converged networks and services.

[click on the image below for the full excerpt]

[click on the image above for the full excerpt]

Network operators interviewed for this report include:
AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T)
Broadwing Corp. (Nasdaq: BWNG)
Electric Lightwave Inc. (NYSE: CZN)
Equant NV (a subsidiary of France Telecom SA [NYSE/Paris: FTE])
MCI Inc. (Nasdaq: MCIC)
New Edge Networks Inc.
Savvis Communications Corp. (Nasdaq: SVVS)
Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD)
WilTel Communications Group Inc. (NYSE: LUK)

Equipment vendors surveyed and profiled include:
Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA)
Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN)
Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)
Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERICY)
Hammerhead Systems Inc.
Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR)
Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU)
Mangrove Systems Inc.
Marconi Corp. plc (Nasdaq: MRCIY; London: MONI)
Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT)
Riverstone Networks Inc. (Pink Sheets: RSTN)
Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE)
Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA)

Report Scope and Structure

The Future of Multiservice Switching in Converged IP/MPLS Networks provides a complete assessment of multiservice edge networking's current and projected roles in converged IP/MPLS networks, with detailed breakouts on the following key market segments:

Carrier broadband aggregation
Carrier ATM/Frame Relay switching
Enterprise networks
Wireless networking and fixed/mobile convergence
Packet telephony and VOIP
Network security

The report is structured as follows:

Section I is an introduction to the report, with complete report key findings.

Section II begins with an assessment of the paths operators are taking to migrate their traditional multiservice networks to MPLS. An examination of the 3G wireless market is provided as a clear example of how MSSs can be ideal engines for this migration.

Section III delivers a detailed look at the evolution of the MSS into a Layer 2 MSE or Layer 3 MSE, with a detailed taxonomy and discussion of our service provider survey.

Section IV summarizes the interviews of operators conducted for this report.

Section V provides assessments of the vendors bringing products to market in the multiservice switching space.

The report is essential reading for a wide range of industry participants, including the following:

Telecom equipment manufacturers: How will changes in the multiservice edge market affect your long-term product-positioning strategy? Does your long-term plan address the key issues that network operators are targeting? Do you have all the bases covered, or are there potentially damaging strategic gaps that need to be filled?
Component and subsystem manufacturers: How will developments in the multiservice edge market affect your role in the telecom supply chain? What new features will your customers be looking to add to their products, and how can you help them meet those needs? Which types of products are most likely to be deployed by network operators as they move toward IP/MPLS convergence?
Network operators: Which suppliers are best positioned to deliver the multiservice edge products you will need? Do you need to cultivate new supply sources to ensure that you can fulfill your long-term network convergence plans?
Investors: Which equipment makers are in the best position to capture market share in this important telecom industry sector?

The Future of Multiservice Switching in Converged IP/MPLS Networks is published in PDF format.
PRICE: $3,495
Chief Analyst, Heavy Reading
Scott Clavenna is the head of Heavy Reading's team of analysts and a leading authority on next-generation telecom technology. He has 13 years' experience researching the optical networks and broadband networking markets...
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62 pages of product and strategy competitive analysis covering every supplier of multiservice switches, as well as key router vendor competitors
Full results and analysis of an exclusive online survey of nearly 90 carrier professionals worldwide, covering network operator deployment plans for MSSs
In-depth interviews with leading carriers regarding their network convergence strategies
A detailed taxonomy of the emerging multiservice edge market
PRICE: $3,495
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