Banking on change
CEN Feature (Jan 6 2011)
In the first article in this series, “Time to let discontinued routers R.I.P.,” I described how volatility in the router market has left some service providers delivering service through discontinued edge routers without software support or replacement hardware. That’s not a comfortable position; especially considering that a recent survey showed high availability is the most important differentiator for Ethernet Service (see Carrier Ethernet Service Differentiation Survey Results, Sept 21, 2010). However, there is some good news in overcoming the discontinued router dilemma, and it comes in the form of Carrier Ethernet.
Carrier Ethernet equipment has a dramatically smaller rack space footprint than discontinued routers. (Note: Rack space height is typically measured by Rack Units (RU), where 1 RU =1.75 inches). As an example, one discontinued router we recently encountered supported up to 60 Ethernet-enabling channelized DS3 interfaces, but required a 20 RU chassis. Today, however, Carrier Ethernet equipment can switch and aggregate 24 DS3 of Ethernet service in as little 2 RU of rack space.
A smaller equipment footprint translates to real dollars when service providers co-locate their equipment in leased rack space. Co-location fees for a full rack cabinet (40-42 RU) run $1,000 to $1,600 per month, and $700-$1,000 per month for half of a rack. Meanwhile, a 2-RU space can be leased for as little as $250 per month. Service providers who retire their discontinued routers also reduce monthly co-location expenses and increase their profit margins. In markets where rack space real estate is at an especially high premium they may even sub-lease their newly freed rack space to other service providers.
One factor that enables Carrier Ethernet’s smaller footprint is its lower power consumption. This reduces another recurring expense for service providers—power. Most co-location agreements charge not on the basis of power consumed, but on the fusing required on the power feeds. So, when the router is replaced, the large battery feeds can be reduced, along with the monthly power bill from the co-location provider. For example, service providers replacing the router mentioned above with Carrier Ethernet may find that they can reduce their fused power from 50A service to as little as 5A of service on 48V. With co-location power costs ranging $15-$25 per fused Amp for protected feeds, retiring the discontinued router with Carrier Ethernet equipment reduces monthly power expenses even further.
So, while the router retirement may be driven by risk mitigation on unsupported routers, service providers are also finding that going with a newer Carrier Ethernet solution, such as the ISG 6000 from my company, Overture Networks, is an upgrade that can they can take to the bank.
Brian Van Voorhis is a senior product manager at Overture Networks.