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Juniper Breaks into New Terabit Territory

Convergence is back in a big way with networking vendor Juniper Networks (NASDAQ:JNPR), which just released a new system for service provider's networks.

The new TX Matrix Plus platform offers the promise of major scalability with the ability to interconnect up to 16, T-1600 core routers. That adds up to a system that can deliver 25 Terabits per second (Tbps) of network capacity, or one trillion bits per second throughput.

The TX Matrix Plus also leverages virtualization technology in order to help carriers flatten their networks by consolidating disparate networks on a single platform.

"Just as virtualization brought with it ways to optimize data center infrastructure, it has the same capability for networks," Alan Sardella, senior product marketing manager, Juniper High-end Systems Business Unit told InternetNews.com

Sardella explained that the TX Matrix plus is a multichasis switching core complex that allows providers to link up to 16 separate T1600 core routers. The T1600 is Juniper highest end core router and it competes against Cisco's CRS-1.

The TX Matrix Plus is what Sardella referred to as a "center stage" router platform in that it sits at the center of a core network pulling in services from multiple attached core routers. The platform can also leverage Juniper's JCS 1200 Control Plane Scaling platform that separates management of data from the core networking control plane.

The new routing platform arrives at a time when carriers are under pressure to do more with less. Juniper reported as much in its 2008 year end financial results, noting steady demand and stretched out delivery cycles.

With the TX Matrix Plus, Juniper is enabling what it refers to as a Virtual Service Network, where services can be decoupled from the physical infrastructure.

With virtual services, the idea is that network management becomes more simplified since administrators manage a service network as opposed to managing a service across multiple physically disparate networking elements. Sardella claimed that, with a highly converged network topology, a carrier could save in operational expenditures for network management.

With the ability to loop in up to 25 Tbps, Juniper is also giving carriers the ability to provide large scale for their network services. Yet considering that the highest powered routers on their own today only provide just over 1 Tbps each, there may be a question as to why anyone would need 25 Tbps. Based on what he's heard already from carriers, Sardella is confident there is a need for such large scale routing.

"Part of the reason is convergence is somewhere along the spectrum of where it needs to be," Sardella explained. "Providers realize that they can save running on converged networks but there are still many reasons why they run overlay networks."

An overlay network may take the form of an optical network that is not fully converged with Ethernet infrastructure. With the TX Matrix Plus and its host of T1600 core routers, optical and Ethernet can all be combined into one core routing platform.

With the TX Matrix Plus platform, Sardella admit there will be some challenges to getting it deployed.

"Getting it deployed will be a matter of looking to early adopters," Sardella noted. "This is a new paradigm so it has something of a greenfield to it. But there are also existing networks out there from very large carriers that they know are reaching the end of their useful life now and they're going to have to be redesigned."