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Juniper goes skinny to pack routers into little racks

A central office router staff won't trip over

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Juniper Networks has caught the “smaller is better for routers” bug, kicking off a 300mm form factor member of its PTX family which it says targets the traditional telco exchange, where rackspace was designed for the phone switching kit of the 1970s instead of the computer racks in data centres.

Speaking to The Register ahead of the launch, Juniper's Rami Rahim said the PTX 3000 builds on the technology developed for its predecessor, the larger PTX 5000, which the Gin Palace says it treated as a “ground up” redesign “from transistor to management”.

Rahim, executive VP in Juniper's Platform Division, says the design goal for the PTX 3000 was to create the market's “lowest power footprint transport device”, for customers with constrained space, as well as in emerging markets.

It's part of the next push by the transport vendor. During the 2000s, carriers began the long march away from circuit-based technologies, moving their voice and data infrastructure away from legacy Frame Relay and ATM kit and onto IP networks. However, when today's IP traffic lands on high-capacity wavelength-muxed optical networks, it still generally lands back on an SDH slot.

Skinny Juniper PTX3000

Something to drop on your foot:

the Juniper PTX 3000 skinny router

It's that last bastion of Ye Olde Worlde circuit switching that's in the router vendors' crosshairs. They hope to convince the carriers that it's cheaper, easier to manage and more efficient for the traffic to be IP everywhere from the user's access link all the way to the largest inter-capital backhaul links (incidentally using their elbows on transport vendors like Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent).

“There's still a lot of Sonet / SDH equipment out there today, and we view that all as our opportunity,” Rahim told The Register. “Packet-optical integration in transport networks today is in its infancy.

“It's going to need a bit of time for operators to get comfortable with this level of integration in the network,” he added, but the case Juniper is putting is that it's necessary “to reap the benefits of convergence.”

Hence the focus on size: many exchanges weren't laid out to accommodate iron that needs a 900mm-deep space. Hence the PTX 3000's skinny 300 mm layout. “In the older central offices, the aisles between racks are very narrow. And it's not uncommon to build equipment back-to-back to use ports on both sides of the rack,” Rahim said. “So this is built to a form factor that's conducive to deployment in the central office.”

The PTX 3000 will support up to sixteen 100 Gbps DWDM connections per unit, based on its two-port interface cards, which Rahim claims is currently the highest density hundred-gig packet optical solution available. A fully-loaded unit will handle up to 24 Tbps of traffic.

The relatively low power consumption – 1.2 kW per Tbps – is also pitched as an advantage for exchange deployment, where cooling assumptions were different to the big refrigerator that is the modern data centre.

Rahim added that Juniper Networks is well aware of the sensitivities and design habits that exist in the PTX 3000's target market: “In engaging with the customer, we will take a look at their network and model it for them in our environment.

“To scale, operators will have to move to packet-based technologies,” he added. “There's no easy way to do that – it requires a new skill set.” ®

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