Juniper Takes 'Control' of High-Speed Networking

New control-plane architecture set to help carriers with time to market on new services.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Feb 25, 2008
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High-performance carrier networks are about more than just moving high volumes of data; they're also about control of the services and protocols the data relies upon.

Yet, for the most part, data and control have been combined in routing platforms often resulting in a performance trade-off. Juniper Networks is taking a different tact with its new JCS 1200 Control Plane Scaling platform.

The idea with the JCS 1200 is to separate data from the control plane, which in allows the control plane to scale independently. Juniper claims that for control-intensive services the separation of the control plane from the data plane provides greater service scalability for service providers.

"We are the ones taking the bold move of a separate control platform," Alan Sardella, Juniper's senior product marketing manager for high-end systems, told InternetNews.com.

"The main competitive advantage that it gives us and our customers is that you don't diminish control plane capacity as you add forwarding capacity."

Sardella explained that a typical router is made up of two primary components, a data plane and a control plane. The data plane is the packet-forwarding engine, and it is responsible for moving packets in and out of the router and into the destinations of the network.

The control plane is responsible for running protocols as well as creating and managing the forwarding tables. "It provides the intelligence to the router," Sardella said.According to Sardella, the control plane also provides direction to the data plane and to where packets need to be forwarded.

On the data-plane side, last June Juniper announced its T1600 Terabit router.

Sardella commented that the T1600 provides lots of capacity on the data side but in some cases the control plane can be a bottleneck. The JCS 1200 is designed to relieve that bottleneck, allowing the control plane to scale without having an impact on data-plane capacity.

Sardella argued that without a separate control plane architecture, as services are added, an impact on the data plane could occur. He noted that services such as MPLS (define) can sometimes require a lot of control resources and as such are well served by a separate control plane.

That said, Sardella added that many existing T1600 customers already have plenty of control-plane capacity.

"All networks are designed a little differently, and we're seeing some cases where this (JDS 1200) will give us more flexibility if we can do some separation," Sardella said.

"We're not saying the T1600 doesn't have enough capacity for most cases, but this is for select cases where the service provider needs something extra."

Article courtesy of InternetNews.com

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