Why the ISR 1000 Series is a Really Big Deal.
Today Cisco is introducing a new addition to the Integrated Services Router (ISR) portfolio of branch routers. The ISR 1000 Series follows the new sleek design popping up across Cisco platforms, so it looks sexy, but that’s not why it’s so important. What’s so remarkable about the ISR 1000 Series is that for the first time it brings an architecture normally reserved for higher-end networking platforms down to a place accessible to branch offices of just about any size. Let me explain.
Multi-Processor Device Architectures
Higher-end network devices are built using lots of individual CPU cores working in parallel to process lots of complex features on a multitude of packets flying through the network. This sort of parallel pipelining allows for some advantages like excellent throughput even with highly complex features in the network. It does come with a cost, however, since coordinating all of those CPUs is complicated and expensive.
That’s why traditionally you’ve seen this architecture on high-end Service Provider core and Internet Edge routers like the Cisco ASR 1000 Series and even larger platforms where the cost and complexity is more easily justified. More recently, 2013 to be exact, we were able to bring this architecture, traditionally reserved for expensive custom ASICS, down to the ISR 4000 Series family of modular branch routers.
However, smaller branches with fewer employees haven’t been able to benefit from this architecture. It’s simply too complex and expensive to put multiple parallel processing CPU cores into a branch with less than roughly 100Mbps of throughput. In the Cisco world, these would be the portfolio of fixed Integrated Services Routers; so named because there are no modular interface slots and the interface choices are “fixed” at the time of ordering. Traditionally these would use a single CPU to handle all packet forwarding and feature processing. Simple and relatively inexpensive for those cost-conscious smaller sites.
Bringing the High-End Architecture to the Small Branch – The ISR 1000 Series
Bringing that multi-CPU architecture, and the IOS-XE software that drives it, down to a small branch router has been a goal for a long time. Recent developments from CPU vendors to bring faster, multi-core CPUs down in price, along with continued tweaking of the IOS-XE software to make it more efficient with less resources, finally make building an affordable, small branch router a reality. We can now use the same operating system and architecture from the largest Enterprise aggregation router, the ASR 1000 Series, down to smaller branch offices. The same architecture is also seen in our virtual router platforms, the Cloud Services Router and Enterprise Network Compute System with ISRv.
What that means, in practice, is consistency in features and capabilities across all Enterprise routers from Cisco. It means that as features and capabilities are added in one part of the portfolio, the ISR 1100 Series will benefit from those new features as will Cisco CSR and ASR 1000 Series.
Even without the efficiencies through a shared architecture, the multi-CPU architecture and IOS-XE bring additional benefits. You can now have the predictable performance from higher-end platforms on a smaller ISR, along with a truly integrated security platform with features like Trustworthy Systems, hardware encryption, Umbrella Branch, and Encrypted Traffic Analytics never before available on a fixed ISR.
Naturally, just like other fixed ISRs, the ISR 1000 Series will come in a variety of flavors with interface options to meet just about any need. There are options for Ethernet and DSL, as well as LTE Advanced. There is also an option for an integrated 802.11ac Wave 2 wireless access point (AP) with Mobility Express. That means the ISR 1000 Series can serve as an access point, while also acting as a Wireless LAN Controller for up to 100 additional lightweight APs in the branch.
Building out the Portfolio
The ISR 1000 Series fleshes out an already extensive portfolio of Enterprise Routing from Cisco. With Multi-CPU IOS-XE systems now from small branch through large aggregation plus cloud and virtual deployments, it’s a common architecture across the network. Add to this the new addition of vEdge appliances and Enterprise NFV and there’s support for exciting emerging architectures.
Of course there’s much more information available about the ISR 1000 Series than any blog post could hope to cover. For all that details, along with ordering information, head over to: https://www.cisco.com/go/ISR1000.
If you’re attending SpiceWorld 2017 in Austin, Texas, please stop by Cisco’s booth, #17, to see a demo and ask any questions you have about the ISR 1000!