RealTime IT News

Alcatel's 'Non-Stop' Router

French equipment manufacturer Alcatel has the answer to software upgrades and network downtime crashing networks, announcing Monday a router that delivers 'non-stop' routing for three delivery protocols

The Alcatel Carrier Environment Internet System (ACEIS) gives companies that require rock-solid connectivity for IP data transfers, ranging from e-commerce purchases to financial transactions, without worry over dropouts.

According to Vinay Rathore, Alcatel's broadband networking division's director of strategic marketing, IP has a bad reputation for unreliability -- even among the carrier's who provide the service.

"Look at AT&T, which provides virtual private networking (VPN) service to it's customers," he said. "That's traditionally an IP service, but they run the service on their ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) network because they don't trust their network."

ACEIS is a software/hardware enhancement that runs, for the time being, only on Alcatel's 7770 routing core and switching platforms.

Niel Ransom, recently installed Alcatel chief technology officer, said the increasing role of IP in everyday telecom services calls for increased router performance.

"Broadband access, voice and mobile networks are becoming increasingly reliant upon IP, and Alcatel's proven leadership in understanding and deploying carrier class networking will enable us to deliver this breakthrough technology," he said. "ACEIS is a key requirement for moving the existing IP infrastructure to the next phase of its evolution, allowing carriers to offer mission critical services over a highly reliable IP network.

Ransom is talking about the industry-standard IP guarantee of 99.999 percent uptime, a figure that translates to five minutes out of an entire year. To the average Joe Internet user, that time is a pittance. But, like Albert Einstein famously pointed out, time is relative.

To put it another way, corporations live and die by their ability to provide Internet connectivity and services, no matter the time or place. According to the Contingency Planning Research, every minute of downtime for an e-commerce site translates to $107,500.

"Service providers cannot ask banks and government agencies to migrate mission-critical applications to IP infrastructures without providing the assurances that network performance will not be degraded from today's ATM and circuit infrastructures," said Dr. John Ryan, chief analyst at telecom research and consulting firm RHK.

ACEIS is designed to run on platforms using border gateway protocol (BGP), intermediate system to intermediate systems (IS-IS) and open shortest path first (OSPF) protocols.

Ben Crosby, a senior technologist at Alcatel, said networking has come a long way from the early 90s, when carriers were more worried about building up its networks and the choices were relatively easy to correct.

"Back when networks were new, hitting the reset button and waiting for it to synch up again was enough," he said. "Today, networks are much more complex, and the time it takes for routers to come back online is too long for many companies."

Alcatel officials haven't announced a timetable for public ACEIS availability, but plan on demonstrating the technology at Supercomm 2002 in June.