Cisco Edge Routers Still Two Years Behind Rivals: Analyst

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Cisco is hyping upgrades to its ASR 9000 edge router family for metro Ethernet networks, and has signed up several cable customers including Cox Communications and Bright House (see Cox Deploys More Than 100 Cisco ASR 9000 Routers).

The vendor claims its new network virtualization technology (”nV”) will boost the raw capacity of the ASR 9000 line 15-fold, to 96 Terabits per second. That’s “36 times that of competing products,” Cisco asserts.

Cisco also announced the ASR 9922 — a 20-slot “big brother” to the existing 4-slot ASR 9006 and 8-slot ASR 9010 models — as well as two new line cards (a 24-port 10GigE and a 2-port 100GigE), all of which are slated to be available in the first half of 2012.

But Jefferies & Co. analyst George Notter in a research note Wednesday said Cisco is “still two years behind Juniper and Alcatel-Lucent on Edge Routing technology. Our analysis indicates that — on a port density and throughput per slot basis — the new ASR 9922 (and its new higher density 10GigE port cards) have just now caught up to Juniper’s Q4′09 update for the MX480 and MX960 products.”

While “Cisco’s announcement yesterday was a step in the right direction for the company,” Notter wrote, “we expect that Juniper and Alcatel-Lucent will continue to take share in the Edge Routing market.”

Meanwhile, Notter said the 96 Terabits per second figure “is a largely theoretical capacity figure for a network applications that will never be used in our view.”

Juniper, for its part, challenged many of Cisco’s ASR 9000 claims.Mike Marcellin, Juniper’s VP of marketing and business strategy, in a statement sent to media yesterday said, “Three years ago, Cisco announced the ASR 9000 platform, claiming six times the total system capacity of the nearest competitor and 400G per slot. It missed its ship target by one year and what they have delivered has never surpassed Juniper’s MX3D in total system capacity or per slot capacity. In fact, it currently is at half the total system capacity and two-thirds the slot capacity of the MX3D.”

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