Nortel Networks is planning a comprehensive router offering, from core to edge, with an announcement in the coming months, according to CEO Bill Owens.
The Canadian telecoms and data networking company has previously relied on a partnership with Avici Systems for carrier routing, but Avici didn’t give us the traction we need, said Peter Kelly, president of Nortel’s enterprise business in EMEA.
What the Brampton, Ontario-based company wants now is something that addresses both core and edge, carrier and corporate. Cisco dominates the routing market and we don’t just want to do a me-too offering, said Albert Hitchcock, Nortel’s CIO.
Anyone doing that will get the market share they deserve, Mr Kelly added. He said a router play will need to integrate into Nortel’s virtual enterprise offering, which brings together wired and wireless/mobile, LAN, WAN, and security. This raises the question of whether just a router offering is enough, or whether Nortel will also require WAN optimization and application acceleration technology, vendors of which have been snapped up by Cisco, Juniper, Citrix, and F5 in recent months. That will all come with what we do in routers, said Mr Kelly.
Steve Pusey, president for EMEA and APAC, said: We’re now back in a position to make acquisitions. But the sheer scope of what Nortel wants in routers points only to Juniper, which has high-end core routers for carriers, but also with its J-Series, harbors ambitions in Cisco’s heartland, the enterprise market. Everyone else, from Avici through to HP and 3Com, tends to be in one or the other. However, conceivably, Huawei could claim an end-to-end offering, but would it want to partner with Nortel or attack the market alone?
A deal with Juniper, which would almost certainly be a partnership rather than an acquisition, would also bring Nortel the Peribit (WAN optimization) and RedLine (app acceleration) technologies the router vendor has picked up in recent months, and would fit nicely as neither Juniper nor Nortel really plays in the other’s space.
Owens, on a recent morale-boosting, awareness-raising trip to Europe, was keeping his cards close to his chest. We wish we had better router capabilities, but we’re not vacuous about that, he said, before telling an audience of EMEA journalists to watch this space in the coming months.