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Alcatel-Lucent Making Big Routers Smaller

Not every service provider needs the biggest routers to serve its customers. It's a market reality that networking vendor Alcatel-Lucent is taking to heart with a pair of new routers introduced today.

With the release, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) is downsizing its 7750 Service Router (SR) for smaller points of presence than its traditional target of big metropolitan area networks.

The two new 7750 SR routers are smaller than their metro counterparts, though they still include much of the same technology for mobile, residential and business services. Alcatel-Lucent is launching the smaller routers in an effort to capture more of the service provider market as it battles rivals Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) and Juniper (NASDAQ: JNPR).

"These two platforms address smaller points of presence, and leverage our existing technology from our larger platform, bringing it into more compact platforms that can be deployed at the very edge of large carrier networks, or for a regional network operator or even within mission-critical verticals," Heidi Adams, director of service provider marketing at Alcatel-Lucent, told InternetNews.com.

Adams added that the two new platforms expand the addressable market for Alcatel-Lucent and help to ensure that it isn't leaving smaller network operators behind the technology curve.

The two new routers are officially called the 7750 SR c-4 and 7750 SR c-12. Both platforms offer up to 90 gigabits per second (Gb/sec) of forwarding capacity, and include the same FP2 silicon that can provide up to 100 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) for the larger 7750 SR units.

The FP2 has 112 array cores and was custom designed by Alcatel-Lucent. Both new 7750 SR routers include full hardware support for IPv6 as well.

While the largest 7750 SR router can provide terabits of routing performance, Adams noted that smaller network deployments simply don't need that type of capacity. In her view, the sweet spot for deployments at the edge of a network is around 100 Gb/sec.

The other element that makes smaller and edge-of-network deployments different than big metro deployments is the types of connectivity options that are present.

According to Adams, there can be lots of copper (as opposed to fiber optics) at the networking edges, which provide the last mile of access to consumers. Since copper connectivity is slower than fiber, Alcatel-Lucent has optimized the smaller 7750 SR router to handle that scenario.

The c-4 is a lower-cost version of the router, only supporting one horizontal slot, instead of the three slots that the c-12 router boasts.

According to Adams, the ability to handle different types media connectivity for smaller network deployments is a key value proposition for the new routers. The ability to connect older TDM networks and modern IP based Ethernet equipment is a large company focus for Alcatel-Lucent. In September, the company announced a broad effort to help converge optical and IP transport delivery mechanisms.

"For the smaller operators, I think this is a new opportunity for us," Adams said. "Previously, the choices were all Ethernet, which leaves on the table the question of how to address the legacy infrastructure. Now we can address both the high-end Ethernet traffic as well as the legacy traffic."