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Simpler Times: The Next-Generation of the Internet

There’s an interesting dynamic taking place in the Service Provider industry these days:  The simplest devices are becoming more capable and complex.  The simplest applications are becoming more specialized and personalized.  And the networks that enable both are becoming more inefficient and ineffective.

I don’t want to come off sounding like Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man, but I think I’m echoing many of my colleagues within Cisco and the Service Provider industry when I express a growing desire for simpler times.

Maybe not direct-connection, crank-phone, Pennsylvania 6-5000 simpler times – I’m no more willing to give up my iPhone or iPad than the rest of you – but it seems to me we need to rethink the way we design and build networks, develop and deploy services over those networks, and manage and maintain those networks to ensure those services consistently and continuously deliver the types of Internet experiences consumers demand, or rather, expect. Read More »

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Addressing the Service Provider Transition to IPv6: Carrier-Grade IPv6 Solution (Part 3 of 4)

The transition to IPv6 presents a complex technical challenge, and the business risks for not doing it right are potentially significant, in terms of impact on customer retention and growth, new business models, and competitive edge.

In this third installation of the series, Kelly Ahuja of Cisco and Ray Mota of ACG focus on Service Provider strategies for the transition to IPv6. As Kelly mentions, the Cisco Carrier-Grade IPv6 Solution (CGv6) is designed to help address both technical and business challenges associated with the transition. The Cisco CGv6 portfolio of IPv6 solutions enables service providers to:

  • Preserve investments in IPv4 infrastructure, assets, and delivery models
  • Prepare for the smooth, incremental transition to IPv6 services that are interoperable with IPv4
  • Prosper through accelerated subscriber, device, and service growth that are enabled by the efficiencies that IPv6 can deliver

It’s important to emphasize the word solution. CGv6 solution is not just a line card, or a network appliance, or a software feature. Unlike other companies Cisco has the experience and expertise to help network operators realize the promise of IPv6 by offering full Life Cycle Services Support. This is especially important as not all operators have experience in IPv6 or access to this expertise. Cisco can provide the people, processes and tools to ensure a seamless transition. Some of the capabilities our advanced services team provides include:

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Texas Lone Star Network Deploys the ASR 9000 for State-wide Services

Although well known for oil and cattle, Texas is home to many high technology companies (including the Cisco campus of yours truly), and is the largest clean energy (wind) producer in the USA. It’s also got a booming economy that needs advanced telecommunications services to all parts of the state. 

TLSN connects Cisco ASR 9000 Series routers with 10G optical wavelengths enabled in the Cisco DWDM backbone network

To that point, we recently talked with the team at Texas Lone Star Network (TLSN). Located just 50 miles northwest of  the capital of Austin, TLSN operates a Cisco DWDM fiber network spanning over 3000 route miles offering wavelength, Ethernet, and SONET services to its 39 consortium company members, national carriers, wireless carriers, regional cable TV operators, colleges and the federal government. Earlier in the year they made the decision to upgrade their network with a deployment of Cisco’s ASR 9000 Series routers.

TLSN has connected the new ASR 9000 routers with 10G optical wavelengths enabled in the Cisco DWDM backbone network. The enhanced network provides them the foundation for new, revenue generating services, including cloud computing, cell backhaul, and IP/MPLS virtual private networks. In particular, cell backhaul is expected to be a growth area because of the number of 4G deployments going on in Texas right now.

“With the rapid growth in customer demand for higher capacity , driven especially by video, mobile, and high speed data services, we had to scale our network, but we had to also watch our operational expenses. Leveraging our new Carrier Ethernet platform we’re able to offer new services cost effectively to our member companies and customers  to ensure that technologies such as telemedicine and distance learning are available to any community in the state. Plus, with our Texas-wide footprint we can offer both a wide range of highly available services coupled with a unique footprint that other providers can’t match.”
Brad Seymour, General Manager, TLSN

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Cisco Live! Showing Off 100GE on CRS-3 and ASR 9000 Series

Cisco ASR 9000 and Cisco CRS-3Following the announcement of the ASR 9000 System last month, it was not too surprising that one of the most popular demos at Cisco Live in Las Vegas was the Service Provider IP NGN pod. For this event we had a setup which included 100GE interfaces connected between an ASR 9000 (edge) and a CRS-3 (core). Ultimately over the course of the show we totaled over one thousand 100GE customer engagements, and nearly 200 ASR 9000 Test Drive (better known as “Robot Arm”) demonstrations.

Capability to support 100GE is something that we see consistently in customer RFPs, even if they intend to deploy 10GE initially. It’s all about investment protection while (in some cases) they wait for the cost of 100G to be more competitive with using multiple 10GE links. Given the cost of 100 Gbps pluggable optics, it’s amazing to hold in your hands something so small and plain that sells for the cost of a luxury car.

Also a hit was the award winning Cisco ASR 9000 Test Drive, about which I’ve blogged before. This of course was physically located in San Jose, and streamed to Cisco Live while being controlled on the show floor by the users. (A true, but little known fact – the inspiration for the Test Drive came from toy heat engine known as the “drinking bird”. We liked the idea that the IOS XR-enabled ASR 9000 keeps running much like a perpetual motion machine).

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Addressing the Service Provider Transition to IPv6: An Industry Framework (Part 2 of 4)

One of the hot topics at Cisco Live 2011 last week was around the topic of IPv6 deployment and how to handling the exhaustion of IPv4 address space, both for Enterprise and Service Providers. Over fourteen sessions on the topic were covered, including such titles as How to Convince your Boss to Deploy IPv6, Cisco on Cisco: Making the Leap to IPv6, and IPv6 Planning, Deployment, and Operation Considerations. When it comes to IPv6 implementation, there is no “one size fits all” design, which is why the Cisco CGv6 solution is intended to preserve existing network infrastructure investments, prepare for the transition to IPv6, and enable companies to prosper in the new IPv6 environment.

In the second video of our series on the Service Provider Transition to IPv6 with Kelly Ahuja from Cisco and Roy Mota of ACG Communications, we hear perspectives from cable providers Comcast (USA) and Rogers (Canada) on how they are making the transformation to an IPv6 network. Or as John Brzozowski, Distinguished Engineer & Chief Architect for IPv6 at Comcast, notes “V6 matters to everybody…” that it’s an “…industry, internet community challenge that everyone has to face.”

One critical point that John makes is the need to make the transition seamless despite the huge number of moving parts in the network. This was a key reason for Cisco’s Carrier Grade Network Address Translation implementation, which provides the scale and performance required to offer a simple way to immediately deal with IPv4 address exhaustion issues. Equally important is that many customers aren’t expected to flash-cut over to IPv4. Instead, the transition time will likely take years to ensure that Internet end users are not adversely affected by the migration.

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