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Simplifying Cable Plant Operations with SDN and DOCSIS 3.1

Igor-DayenGuest Blog by Igor Dayen, SP Product and Solutions Marketing

Carriers are continually challenged to deliver on the customer experience. One of the benefits of Cisco’s cBR-8 Evolved CCAP is the built-in telemetry, programmability, and DOCSIS 3.1 support of the platform. This makes it ideal for gigabit-speed access applications that demand both an automated and optimized cable access network.

With Software Defined Networking the cable operator can read information from the cable plant, make necessary decisions and then push an update back into the network. NetworkingThey can then decide on how conservative or how aggressive they want to be on adjusting the plant performance. Other tools such as a health check monitor that will validate performance, record a variety of statistics, and alert users when it sees something that is not a norm.
In addition, there are applications that enable management functions. Functions that today require human intervention can take place automatically – simplifying network operations and maximizing the customer experience.

Today, cable operators have an opportunity to Read More »

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Data Centers: Applications, Networks and Chicken-Salad Sandwiches

You’ve seen the data points: 30 million new devices connected to the Internet each week. A whopping 50 billion connected by 2020. This surge of connectivity – driven largely by the Internet of Everything – is creating vast new opportunities for digitization as industries transform.

This tidal wave of connected devices is also reshaping the data center. Why? Because every single thing connected to the Internet has a MAC and IP address, and this enormous growth will unleash more addresses than anyone can imagine. These addresses need, feed, and breed applications, whether by running an app or providing it data. And as this happens at an exponential scale, the data center becomes the key to making it all work.

We know that the applications will be everywhere, and that’s a good thing. Apps will continue to be in the enterprise data center – the private cloud—where they’ve been running for a long time. And they’ll run in cloud-based data centers. They’ll also run at the edge – whether the edge is a branch office, your home, or even a part of your body.

For applications to perform optimally no matter where they are, the infrastructure has to understand the language of applications. We have to teach it. And this is where policy comes in. For us, policy is teaching the infrastructure the language of the application so that the application can tell the infrastructure, “Here is what I need to run at my best.”

This is an area where Cisco has a lot of skin in the game. After all, no one knows Data Center infrastructure better than we do.

Read More »

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DOCSIS 3.1: Driving Cable to Software Defined Networking

Guest Blog by Igor Dayen, SP Product and Solutions Marketing


Optical transport has been transformed as integrated high-performance Digital Signal Processing has enabled vendors such as Cisco to squeeze more capacity at greater distances than ever before. Advanced modulation techniques and Forward Error Correction are now commonly deployed. Cisco NCS 2000 platform can drive up to 140 channels, ranging up to 200 Gbps each, with the ability to drive 100 Gbps channels to over 4000 km.

Now we’re seeing the same concept appear in the cable space as DOCIS 3.1 sets the stage for new levels of both HFC throughput and capacity optimization. Imagine being able to get an extra 20%-30% of bandwidth out of your existing cable plant without replacing it? DOCIS 3.1 promises to make this a reality.

Cisco’s flagship cable access router, the Cisco cBR-8 Converged Broadband Router was Read More »

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Cisco Advancing Virtualization with AT&T

Cisco’s secret weapons are our engineers and our commitment to innovation that solves our customers’ business problems.

When we committed ourselves to being the leader in networking virtualization in the service provider industry, our team has been maniacally focused on Network Function Virtualization (NFV) to enable our customers to transform their network architectures and prepare their businesses for the future.

We doubled the number of virtualized functions last year, and have done the same again this year, to reach more than 100 – a number that represents the breadth of our portfolio and the scope of the opportunity this new approach to networking brings to service providers.

Today was an important validation of our commitment to NFV and another strong proof point as to how virtualization is moving beyond “proof of concept” and into the largest networks on the globe. Together, with AT&T, we announced that our two companies are collaborating to enhance the AT&T Network on Demand platform by developing and deploying advanced virtualized technologies, including software-based customer premise equipment (CPE), that will deliver expanded benefits to business customers.


AT&T is utilizing Software Defined Networking (SDN) and NFV technologies to create dynamic, on-demand services. In March, we announced our joint efforts with virtualization to connect cars in Europe, and are pleased that we can work again with our long-standing partner, as they lead the shift to next-generation networking by providing customers more flexible and scalable services and experiences.

AT&T and other trailblazing service providers are in an enviable position, bringing together people, processes, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before.

By combining Cisco’s expertise and industry-leading portfolio with AT&T’s vision and industry leadership, together we are working to capture new business opportunities that deliver on the promise of virtualization.

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What Du Can Do With ACI

It seems people sometimes have this view of SDN as addressing rather esoteric use cases and situations. However, the reality is that while there are instances of ‘out there stuff’ happening, there are many situations where we see customers leverage the technology to address pretty straightforward issues. And these issues are often similar across different business/vertical/customer types.

Aftab Rasool is Senior Manager, Data Center Infrastructure and Service Design Operations for Du.   I recently had the chance to talk with him about Cisco’s flagship SDN solution – Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) – and Du’s experience with it. I found there were many instances of Du using ACI to simply make traditional challenges easier to deal with.

Du is an Information & Communications Technology (ICT) company based in Dubai. They offer a broad range of services to both consumer and business markets, including triple play to the home, mobile voice/data, and hosting. The nature of their business means the data center, and thus the data center network, is critical to their success. They need a solution to effectively handle challenges of both deployment, as well as operations…and that’s where ACI comes in.

I’ll quickly use the metaphor of driving to summarize the challenges Aftab covers in the video. He addresses issues that are both ‘in the rear view mirror’ as well as ‘in the windshield’ – with both being generalizable to lots of other customers. What I mean is that there are issues from the past that, though they are largely behind the car and visible in the mirror, still impact the driving experience. There are also issues on the horizon that are visible through the windshield, but are just now starting to come into focus and have effect.

Rear view mirror issues – These are concepts as basic as scalability associated with spanning tree issues, or sub optimal use of bandwidth, also due to spanning tree limitations. These issues are addressed with ACI, as there is no spanning tree in the fabric, and the use of Equal Cost Multi Pathing (ECMP) allows use of all links. Additionally, use of BiDi allows use of existing 10G fiber plant for 40G upgrades, thus obviating the expense and hassle of fiber upgrades. As a result, the ACI fabric, based on Nexus 9000’s, provides all the performance and capacity Du needs.

Windshield issues – These are represented by a range of things that result from business’s need for speed, yet are diametrically opposed by the complexity of most data centers. The need for speed through automation is becoming more and more critical, as is simplifying the operating environment, particularly as the business must scale. Within this context, Aftab mentioned both provisioning and troubleshooting.

Provisioning: Without ACI, provisioning involved getting into each individual switch, making requisite changes – configuring VLANs, L3, etc. It also required going into L4-7 services devices to assure they were configured properly and worked in concert with the L2 and L3 configurations. This device by device configuration not only was time consuming, but created the potential for human error. With ACI, these and other types of activities are automated and happen with a couple of clicks.

Troubleshooting: Before ACI, troubleshooting was complicated and time consuming, in part because they had to troll through each switch, look at various link by link characteristics to check for errors, etc. With ACI, healthscores make it easy and fast to pinpoint where the challenge is.

Please take a few minutes to check out what Aftab has to say about these, and other aspects of his experience with ACI at Du.


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