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Startup Moves Terabit Routing From Drawing Board To Reality.

Terabit routing has been touted by both startups and established switch vendors alike as an effective way to bring higher throughput to existing fibre networks. But, until now, no terabit switches had actually been installed in a real-world network. This changed in January when Avici Systems (North Billerica, MA) announced that Enron Communications will integrate the company's Terabit Switch/Routers (TSRs) into Enron's Intelligent Network to create one of the world's fastest IP-based networks. The Enron Intelligent Network will be capable of operating at 40Gbit/sec, four times faster than the benchmark OC-192 speed. Enron has also invested an undisclosed sum in Avici.

Avici's TSR takes advantage of a new technology known as composite trunking. When used over optical networks with WDM, composite trunking combines multiple trunks--which can have various wavelengths and use different routes-into a single virtual trunk that supports throughput up to 300 percent faster than existing OC-192. "Composite trunking enables carriers to scale beyond aggregate speeds greater than OC-192, providing them with additional flexibility in designing and configuring networks," says Surya Panditi, Avici's president and CEO. "The scalability of our TSR enables real carriers to provide real solutions using existing infrastructure. It's state-of-the-art technology unmatched anywhere in the industry."

Avici is not the only company working on composite trunking-based switches, of course. But at press time, it was the only vendor that had a switch on the market. But perhaps even more significantly, Avici's customer win sends a message to the big switching vendors. "Competitors will note that this is not just another trial announcement, but a production network installation," says Chris Nicoll, director of carrier and optical infrastructure for market-watcher Current Analysis. "This is a milestone for the terabit startups, nearly all of who have been acquired, especially with rumors running rampant about nobody having a working system."

Nicoll says that the Enron win represents not just a strong statement of confidence in Avici, but a slap in the face to Cisco. "We had called Enron the prototypical IP over optical network architecture, with Cisco GSRs connected to Ciena DWDMs. Avici gained this network addition at Cisco's expense.

While Avici may have the lead for now, Nicoll says we can expect similar announcements from most players in the terabit router industry, including Cisco, Lucent, Nortel, Pluris, and Tellabs.
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Title Annotation:Product Information; Enron's Intelligent Network to utilize Avici Systems network switch
Author:Piven, Joshua
Publication:Computer Technology Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2000
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