Fiber Optics News

Who Will Win Ethernet Wars?

Riverstone, Cisco, Extreme, Atrica Take Early Lead

This is Part II of a three-part series on the metro core optical market, based on interviews and data from the consultancy Communications Industry Researchers. This week: Vendors with Ethernet-based Solutions. Next week: The God Box Complex.

Many companies will try to capitalize on the growing demand for Ethernet- based products, but only a few have a realistic chance of succeeding.

Communications Industry Researchers (CIR) recently sized up the players that offer Ethernet-based products and picked the winners and losers in its report "Metro Optical Networking Opportunities."

One company expected to produce big things is Riverstone [RSTN], which is focusing on incumbent carriers while other Ethernet vendors have targeted CLECs.

Another big check in Riverstone's column comes from its expected completion of Operations Systems Modification of Intelligent Network Elements (OSMINE) certification in 2002. It is also the most committed to the carrier market in general, being the only revenue-generating Ethernet vendor to focus exclusively on service providers.

"Riverstone has impressed us as being the one that is really focused in on public network requirements," says Mark Lutkowitz, CIR analyst and co-author of the report.

However, it continues to serve enterprises indirectly through customer premises equipment (CPE) distribution arrangements it negotiates with ISPs like Genuity [GENU] and UUNet/WorldCom [WCOM]. One of the ironies of Riverstone's Ethernet leadership is that it promotes the seasoned LAN protocol less than its counterparts. It spends considerable effort advancing its multi-service capabilities, not unlike many of the metro's MSPP vendors.

Don't Forget Cisco

CIR says the biggest challenger to Riverstone is not a traditional Ethernet vendor, but Cisco [CSCO]. Cisco generally likes to keep its Catalyst series of Ethernet switches in enterprise networks, where that line remains a leading corporate choice for hubbing, bridging and switching LANs. …

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