MPLS/MEF Switches and NIDs

For MPLS and MEF switches, I know Juniper, Cisco, and Nokia are commonly talked about on this list. However, I was wondering if anyone has evaluated other brands? We are not interested in looking at chinese based vendors, so ZTE and Huawei are not an option. Anyone else worth looking into?

We have used Juniper’s ACX line primarily, but there is a big gap in their product line. The ACX2200 has only two 10G ports. The next jump up from there is the ACX710 with 24 10G ports. They have nothing in between that has 4-12 10G ports. Not to mention, Juniper is very proud price wise. We are looking for cost efficient 10G NIDs with at least 4 10G ports on them and aggregation boxes with at least 12 10G ports on them with 25g/100G uplinks.

Ciena seems to have multiple options available with Segment Routing, MPLS, and streaming telemetry support. I am probably most interested in what Ciena has to offer. Has anyone deployed the 3000 or 5000 product line of Ciena? How does it compare to Juniper? The Ciena 3924 is sub $1000 for example, and has 4 10G ports on it.

Adva has quite a few options as well, but I don’t think their routing stack is as strong as Ciena’s.

Tejas was an unknown player to me, but they seem to have a couple of options that fit the bill. Price wise, I have heard the run circles around everyone.

RAD has some options, but their pricing looks much higher than Ciena.

Accedian looked interesting, but it seems they don’t make aggregation switches, only NIDs.

ECI Telecom / Ribbon seems to have some options, but I have not talked to them.

What does Nokia and Cisco have in this space, and price wise is it going to compare to these less known vendors?

The Nokia 7250-ixr-e covers exactly the port density and price range you are looking for. 24x1/10, 8x10/25 and 2x100G with 300G total capacity.


Thanks, I wasn’t aware of this model. This would compete with the ACX710 based on the specs (actually have a bit more ports). I guess I will have to reach out, but price wise where does this box come in?

What is Nokia’s low cost NID that has at least 4 10G ports?

7210-sas-s or 7210-sas-sx is the low cost 24/48x1 4x10G option. These are very affordable and reliable MPLS transport devices. You’ll need to contact your local Nokia rep for pricing.


I've used the Ciena 3000 series switches as NIDs a fair bit and have no real complaints about them aside from TAC being a bit loathe to give out new versions of SAOS even when the version you've got deployed is going EOL. I've not used the MPLS functionality mostly because it's a pricey software license add-on and I can get by without, but the MEF and associated carrier-oriented Ethernet functionality seems to be pretty much top notch in terms of feature set, stability, and configurability. I mostly use the 3928 though partially because the 3924 is new enough it didn't make it into my standard build-out BOM. The 3928 does also have redundant PSU (fixed, but there are two) if that matters to you. At sub-$1000, the 3924 is a good deal in comparison if it'll do what you need.

If you've never used them, you might find the config language a bit annoying in that it's more Yoda syntax than Cisco, but it's also more consistent than Cisco (what isn't?), so it's got that going for it. Documentation is alright. TAC is responsive to inquiries.

Second vote for the Nokia 7200 line, their price points are hard to beat. The 7250 was originally designed (per the Nokia reps I’ve talked to) to be a data center switch, but I’ve seen more than one MSO deploy them in the field to great effect. They also make fantastic satellite boxes for their 7750 chassis. The 7210 is definitely older, but is a fantastic little MPLS PE router.

SRoS is also easy to pickup, considering it was written by ex-Juniper and Cisco employees (TiMetra/TiMos if I recall correctly?)

I've been deploying the 7210 SAS S and Sx for a while now as MPLS PEs.
I haven't had any major issues. Mixes well with our existing Juniper

I am going to have to reach out to Nokia and talk to them about their products then. In the past when I have talked to Nokia their products have a low upfront cost, but then they license you to death and were worse than Cisco from what I remember.

Wow, ciena has the means to implement SR and MPLS services? I mean they run the underlying LS IGP to signal those SID’s ?? I didn’t know that. I may look at them in the future then. I thought Ciena just did some sort of static mpls-tp or something…

We use Accedian as NID’s with SkyLight director for PAA (SLA stuff)…and uplink those into our network at (yester-year, Cisco ME3600’s and ASR9000’s), but now, ACX5048 and MX204


Wow, ciena has the means to implement SR and MPLS services? I mean they run the underlying LS IGP to signal those SID’s ?? I didn’t know that. I may look at them in the future then. I thought Ciena just did some sort of static mpls-tp or something…

We use Accedian as NID’s with SkyLight director for PAA (SLA stuff)…and uplink those into our network at (yester-year, Cisco ME3600’s and ASR9000’s), but now, ACX5048 and MX204


At a few sites of mine, I’ve seen Cisco NCS 520 devices for local in-rack deployments, and NCS 540’s for aggregation and extension handoffs. Looking at their datasheets real fast, MPLS + EVPN support come in on the 540 series.


Yeah, good point Shawn, I’ve had guys ask “where is the mac table?” in the accedian, ha. Yeah it’s very point to point’ish… you tell a port what vlan to expect, and then what port to send that out. Very rigid like that.

Yeah Ryan, and as I understand it, the NCS540 has the sweet XR OS too


Yes, I was surprised as you that they have these routing features. I was also surprised they had multiple boxes that compete with aggregation devices like the ACX5048. The question is how good is Ciena’s MPLS, switching, and routing stack compared to the established players of Juniper, Cisco, and Nokia? Ciena is no small company, so I think they would have the resources to make it happen.

Ciena was chosen by AT&T to deliver much of their enterprise fiber in MTOBs and such. Unsure if they run MPLS but it looks like it from the physical topology.

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We ran a medium sized mpls network using ciena 3900 and 5000 series boxes on our microwave network.

Nothing but problems, the mpls code was just not mature enough and our radio network had the boxes falling apart at the seams as storms rolled through. At that time they didn’t support FRR or proper CSPF so everything had to be manually engineered active standby LSPs. Not sure if things have changed now. These boxes have Nortel vintage and they seemed best delloyed using PBB TE as it was mature.

As an NID though they are not a bad option but not in core or aggregation IMHO.


How long ago was this, and what code were they running?

What do you recommend for aggregation then?


This was 6+ years ago, SAOS 6.14, so I don't know it might be better now.

We changed to Cisco ASR920 and it was a night and day difference - we now have
90ish ASR920s in production but are migrating toward the NCS540X.


Sat, May 29, 2021 at 10:13:13AM -0500, Colton Conor wrote:

One of our last mile partners started their Metro-E network off of Ciena, years back. As it has grown, it has become unwieldy, and they are now culling the level of intelligence from their Ciena platforms and moving that over to Juniper MX's.

They will keep their Ciena devices, but relegate them to Access nodes, with T-LDP.

They do intend to continue considering use of LDP/RSVP with Ciena, but indicated that they will be looking for stable code that has plenty of bugs fixed, from their experience.

This is a fairly large network here in South Africa, which has been running Ciena for their core and access Metro-E infrastructure for over 6 years now. From what they shared with us (in an effort to explain recent months of downtime), I'd approach with caution.


Yep, same issues we heard from our last mile partner here in South Africa.

As a DWDM system, Ciena are great (we use them both on the dry and wet side).

As a packet box, I have no experience, but this is likely due to instinctive reasons :-).


Extreme has excellent MEF implementations. I’ve never used their MPLS implementations, but it’s definitely there on, I think, all their products. I only have the X620 model in my network, which may or may not work for you. Beware using any EXOS-based product (anything that starts with “X”) unless you’re already familiar with EXOS! I cannot emphasise this enough!
Extreme’s other product lines come from Nortel/Avaya and Broadcom heritage, and also have good MEF implementations (and more-or-less-sane OSes). They have MPLS support, but again, no experience with it.
I can’t give much advice on pricing as I get both edu & gov discounts, but they are competitive with Arista and Cisco when we go to RFP.

Also, Juniper’s MX (and maybe PTX?) families support MEF if that’s a hard requirement. I know some but not all EX switches have had both MEF and MPLS, too. Beware many EX models have pretty minimalist MPLS implementations (e.g. no VPLS). Agreed on their pricing, though, which is why I don’t have any :slightly_smiling_face:. But for 4x10G the MX104 is a very nice box - if you can afford it.

Lastly, have you seen ?