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Packet Transport Nicely Wrapped (Happy Birthday CRS-3!)

It was no accident that Cisco won “Best Core” and “Best Network Infrastructure Provider” of the year at the Telecom Asia People’s Choice Awards. We talked elsewhere about the rapid adoption rate of the Cisco CRS-3, but what are some of the specific reasons behind its success?

The key factor is that today’s core networks must handle dramatic increases in bandwidth both cost-effectively and intelligently. It is simply not enough to transport traffic faster and cheaper. The massive volumes of video, mobile, and cloud services require intelligent IP delivery. The CRS has ability to scale with true, standards-compliant 100GE, 322Tbps multi-chassis capacity, along with superior network intelligence using Network Positioning System to help ensure that content is transported most efficiently. For its one-year birthday, the CRS-3 has added a new capability with a Flexible Packet Transport processor card optimized for Label Switching. It scales the core economically with fast switching, providing carriers the ability to deploy high-speed, agile transport backbones.

Global service providers can reduce costs by utilizing a single core platform to deliver a mix of routing, peering, and transport services. To illustrate the versatility benefits, imagine that a business customer is initially provisioned for a point-to-point connectivity service using packet transport. This is traditionally a lower margin service with tremendous cost-pressures. As that customer grows, they require a multipoint connectivity service with Unified Communications and Telepresence. This service upgrade with higher profit margins can be made quickly and easily without need of a separate platform. This alone lowers the total cost of ownership for capital expenses by 44% and operating expenses by 36% (see the white paper: Flexible Packet Transport: An Approach to Core Network Optimization.)

Eve Griliches from ACG Research spent some time with me last week in this video discussing the new capabilities on the CRS platform, the new market opportunities it enables for Cisco, and how it compares to the competition. You can also listen to the Investor Tech-Talk on ‘The Evolution of Core Networks’ and why a separate standalone MPLS switch is sub-optimal from an architectural perspective.

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Market-Leading Cisco CRS Platform Leads Again

Derided as an expensive box that would experience little demand when it was introduced in 2004, the Cisco CRS core routing platform has time and again proven those predictions wrong.  

At its inception, some thought Cisco would never sell more than 50 CRS units.  It has now sold the CRS to more than 450 service providers in 80+ countries . . . and counting.  

The CRS-3 has ramped even faster than the CRS-1, shipping to more than 80 operators – including nearly 20 Tier 1s – in more than 30 countries in just the first year since it was introduced.

And Cisco isn’t stopping there.  The company today announced major packet transport enhancements to the CRS-3, which was designed to serve as the foundation of the next-generation Internet and support the tremendous growth of video transmission, mobile devices and new online services.  

  • Introducing Flexible Packet Transport for New Market Opportunities – The Cisco CRS-3 flexible packet-transport capability is a form of label switching enabled with the addition of a blade to the Cisco CRS. This scales the core network economically with fast switching, providing a high-speed, agile transport backbone.
  • Significant Savings With a Single Cisco CRS-3 Platform – Because the flexible packet-transport capability does not require a new standalone product to be deployed in a network, operators can easily add it to existing CRS-3 networks without expensive, time-consuming qualification testing.  The CRS-3 delivers functionality that competitive solutions require three platforms to deliver.  Thus, the CRS-3 lowers total cost of ownership by as much as 40 percent. 

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The Internet: Built with Human Imagination

The public Internet is pervasive. It’s an essential ingredient to the way many of us choose to live, work, play and learn. When this amazing resource is viewed through the perspective of mainstream users, the path that led us here may seem unimaginable.

It’s an example of open innovation and creative collaboration, with a common cause that was shared by determined pioneers. The Internet Society has published a brief history that starts with the following story introduction:

“The Internet has revolutionized the computer and communications world like nothing before. The invention of the telegraph, telephone, radio, and computer set the stage for this unprecedented integration of capabilities. The Internet is at once a world-wide broadcasting capability, a mechanism for information dissemination, and a medium for collaboration and interaction between individuals and their computers without regard for geographic location.”

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Happy First Birthday, CRS-3!

Can you believe it? It’s been one year since we launched the Cisco CRS-3 Carrier Routing System! I’m very pleased that the CRS-3 adoption rate is four times faster than the original CRS-1 series. In just a year, 80 service provider customers in more than 30 countries are deploying the platform – a true testament to the scalability and sustainability of the architecture.

Further, service provider customers across the world like AT&T, Comcast, Turkcell in the Middle East, Main One in West Africa, and Hong Kong Broadband in East Asia, among others, are unanimous about the CRS platform increasing the relevance of the network by enabling fixed-mobile convergence, value-added services and consumer broadband. We appreciate the vision and innovation demonstrated by our customers as they incorporate the CRS-3 platform into their next-generation networks.

The strong market response to the CRS-3 validates our belief that this platform is the foundation for the next-generation Internet.   Unlike competitive offerings that require refreshers, upgrades or even full replacements within just a few years, the Cisco CRS platform is designed to seamlessly accommodate the extraordinary growth of video traffic, mobile devices and new online services through this decade and beyond, delivering unprecedented investment protection.

While others in the industry make promises of 100G, we are shipping more capacity than all of our competition combined.  The CRS-3 and IOS XR engineering teams are bringing to market truly world class innovations in all aspects of design, development and delivery. I am very proud of the CRS development team.

See our press release on CRS-3 global expansion and new capabilities.

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The Real (Networking) Stars of Los Angeles

Cisco 100 Gigabit  Ethernet @ OFC/NFOEC 2011Early this month the stars in Los Angeles weren’t walking the Red Carpet, nor Tweeting about #winning, nor trashing their dressing room. Instead they were on the blue carpet of the Los Angeles Convention Center at the OFC/NFOEC 2011 show. A few themes clearly stood out regarding the challenges faced by network operators trying to address the bandwidth growth driven by video and collaboration technologies:

  1. Investment Protection: The relentless need to optimize infrastructure investments
  2. MPLS-TP:  Deployment of packet-based technologies for future transport networks
  3. Interoperability: Why scaling to 100 Gig in an interoperable manner will be critical
  4. Optical Component Innovation: How coherent optical technology, flexible spectrum and component modules will be leveraged in future optical networks

Investment Protection: As providers continue to expand their converged backbone transport networks, they are carefully scrutinizing expenses. Bandwidth growth is driving the expansion and various technology approaches are being discussed to tackle it: efficient wavelength optimization, optical switching, optical bypass, packet switching, packet bypass, label switching and others. Some implementations focus on creating new platforms for each technology function. An ideal approach conserves existing investments without compromising performance. For example, label switching is a function that is fundamental to the core and is an easy, incremental deployment within established platforms. Adding this capability to established platforms makes best use of existing infrastructure and avoids new qualification cycles.

MPLS-TP:  Today MPLS is evolving the transport architecture with MPLS-TP and recently implemented in Cisco’s new Carrier Packet Transport (CPT) platform. The CPT attracted the interest of many customers, and we heard a number of positive comments at the event:
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