In a two-pronged attack, leading network-equipment provider Cisco Systems is going after two rivals in two different niche markets: Riverstone Networks in metropolitan area networks, and Juniper Networks in high-end routers.
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New Cisco router to target metro areas
In response to Juniper moving its M40 router to the "edge" of the network, Cisco has repositioned its Cisco 12000 family of low-cost, high-density and high-speed optical routers outward to challenge Juniper. In the past, Juniper's high-end routers have consistently outperformed Cisco's offerings. But this time, by coming in with prices significantly lower than those of Juniper, Cisco hopes to pry away market share.
While Cisco 12000 prices are not yet final, base prices are half those of Juniper. The price, however, may increase based on configuration and with the addition of what Cisco calls "line cards," separately priced add-on components that are required based on an enterprise's specific networking needs.
Cisco tends to cover all the bases by offering a product for just about every aspect of the network-equipment market. (Cisco even puts up its own internally competing products in some markets.) In this situation, Cisco is moving an existing product line into the high-end router market to challenge Juniper while targeting another product line at Riverstone to enter the metro Ethernet market.
Gartner believes Cisco recognizes that service providers such as Yipes Communications and Cogent Communications are spending money on MANs, and Cisco may view that as opportunity knocking.
However, reliability problems have riddled Ethernet-based MANs, and Gartner believes SONET, an International Telecommunication Union standard for synchronous transmission of multigigabit speeds, is more reliable. On the other hand, Ethernet is less expensive and faster to establish than SONET. A consortium called the Resilient Packet Ring Alliance is working on a standard to resolve these reliability problems.
(For a related commentary on the lack of last-mile connectivity to businesses in many metropolitan areas, see Gartner.com.)
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