The Future As Seen Through Technology
Byline: Vince Vittore
On the surface, Axiowave appears to be just another router company, joining the handful that still exist for the sole purpose of chasing after the market-share crumbs dropped by Cisco Systems and, to a lesser extent, Juniper Networks.
But peel back the veneer and you discover that the Marlborough, Mass.-based company is pushing not just its router, officially identified as the XCR128, but an entire shift of thought processes regarding how carriers deploy the boxes and what drives them to make those decisions. The theory, according to co-founder, President and CEO Mekush Chatter, is based on what the company claims is the provable idea that throwing more bandwidth into the network because of increased demand for data services is a losing battle.
“IP right now stands for invisible profit because no one is making money,” Chatter said. “We built our box to let [carriers] migrate to profitable IP.”
At the heart of the XCR128 is a core engine that reworks some of the logic used in current network engineering models. Typically those call for filling data pipes only to 30% capacity to allow for oversubscription in case demand spikes. The problem with that is 20% to 25% of that 30% capacity is going to best-effort (read: very thin or no margin) services, leaving little for premium services. Chatter makes the analogy of an airline filling its planes to 30% capacity with only 5% of those customers paying first class.
“If packets are passengers, then airlines are a great model,” he said. “It’s simply a business model issue. [Cisco’s] HFR is a classic case of throwing more bandwidth at the issue. How does it help carriers make money?”
The XCR128 uses ATM characteristics, allowing carriers to reserve 40% to 50% of the bandwidth for premium variable bit-rate services like frame relay and another 10% to 20% for constant bit-rate services like private-line emulation and voice. The remainder goes to best-effort Internet traffic. “You can offer 90%-plus for premium traffic if that’s what you want,” Chatter said.
So far, the company has one carrier publicly endorsing the concept – PowerNet Global, a Cincinnati-based wholesale carrier offering mostly long-distance service. The company currently is deploying the routers in all 11 of its points of presence.
“One of our primary products is going to be service-level guarantee of voice over IP, which is pretty much unheard of,” said Bernie Stevens, president & CEO of PowerNet Global. “It looks like a traditional SLA and basically mimics the type of SLA that a person would get with frame relay or ATM.”
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