Brocade: Big Bandwidth, Small Routers

Sometimes good things come in small packages. Networking vendor Brocade today is introducing a new series of small form factor carrier Ethernet routers called the CER (Compact Ethernet Router) 2000 series.

Brocade (NASDAQ: BRCD) is kicking off the CER lineup with the CER 2024 which has 24 Gigabit Ethernet ports and the CER 2048 which includes 48 Gigabit Ethernet ports. At the top end the CER 2048 can provide service providers with up to 136 Gbps of routing power in a 1U form factor. The new carrier Ethernet routers are the first major new service provider hardware products announced by Brocade since it acquired networking vendor Foundry in 2008.

With the CER, Brocade aims to grow its share in the carrier Ethernet market which is forecast to grow to $34 billion in revenue by 2013.

“We continue to design our products to help reduce complexity and cost while improving power, space and cooling efficiency,” Nadeem Zahid, senior product marketing manager at Brocade told

Zahid said Brocade is targeting the CER platform as a Carrier Ethernet edge router as well as an MPLS Provider Edge router. He added that service providers have had the perception that deploying MPLS services requires larger more costly routers, which is not the case with the CER.

The CER is not the only smaller service provider Carrier Ethernet platform in the Brocade portfolio. Just prior to the completion of its acquisition by Brocade in 2008, Foundry announced its NetIron CES product. The CES (Compact Ethernet Switch) similar to the CER, is a compact 1U box.

“The CES was enough to meet many requirements for quite some time,” Zahid said.

Exploding video traffic

That said Zahid noted that over the past year, bandwidth traffic demands have grown on service provider networks, which has made an even more powerful platform necessary.

“Video traffic has exploded much more than many vendors have expected,” Zahid said. “The CES doesn’t have the routing space to meet the advanced routing capability needs and there was a need for a next generation product to have advanced routing with MPLS services. ”

Zahid explained that Brocade is using a ‘mix and match’ of merchant silicon to power the CER together with some specific customizations in order to get the Ethernet performance and density.

The Brocade approach to silicon differs somewhat from that of rivals Juniper (NYSE: JNPR), Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) all of who have invested in their own custom silicon efforts. Juniper recently announced its new JUNOS Trio Silicon to power its gear. Alcatel-Lucent is using its own custom developed FP2 silicon as part of their smaller edge 7750 router platforms that provide up to 90 Gbps of bandwidth.

“If you want to do more homegrown stuff, what happens is that your costs go higher,” Zahid said. “The market CER is after cannot be achieved with that kind of mindset. We have a laser sharp focus on solving problems with the least cost possible, that’s what CER is about.”

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