Today, Yvette Kanouff, posted a blog explaining how Cisco is expanding our software disaggregation capabilities in the areas where it makes the most sense, for added scale and functionality, and to provide more flexible options for customers who need it.

What does this mean for Cisco Service Provider customers? This is about the flexible consumption of innovation that drives business outcomes.

The Service Provider market is in the throes of dramatic change. Customers tell me they have starkly different expectations of their business partners than when the Internet was a younger, less complicated place.

A majority of our Service Provider customers expect networking innovation that enables business outcomes and want 360o partnerships which help them:

  • Expand the reach of their business via new revenue-generating services
  • Enable efficient capital allocation and lower operating cost
  • Improve customer retention through world-scale products and services

For this majority, these outcomes are enabled by integrated systems and end-to-end network architectures that include automation, security, revenue-generating services, and support at a global scale.

Another category of Service Providers is looking to consume innovation in the form of building blocks. They want disaggregated components of silicon, hardware, network operating system, automation, and even services, then take on responsibility for customization, integration, security and lifecycle management. Our blog today addresses this segment of the market.

At Cisco, we have always taken an architectural approach to industry requirements. This unique approach allows us to draw on our innovation in network silicon, hardware, and software to offer a range of consumption models that gives our customers the flexibility they want while offering the dependability and support they need for the long-term.

IOS XR offers carrier-grade disaggregation

One of the core values of Cisco IOS XR software is that it offers rich IP networking innovation across a variety of device form factors from a single code base.

First, we are expanding the hardware platforms supported by IOS XR so that it can run on:

  • Fixed or modular routers powered by Cisco designed as well as merchant silicon
  • x86 servers as virtualized software across public clouds
  • A curated set of third-party devices

Our detailed blog describes how IOS XR can be integrated with a reference third-party device. Based on customer engagement and business opportunity, we will consider additional hardware support in the future.

This extension of our portfolio does not come at the expense of feature sets or operational consistency. All of these platforms are powered by a single, scalable software paradigm – IOS XR which powers the feature richness of the ASR9K, the optimized performance of the NCS5500 and the best-in-class scale of the Cisco IOS XRv 9000, which can support 70M paths as a virtual Route Reflector(vRR) and up to 160Gbps throughput as a vRouter.

Second, we are adding to the rich suite of Open APIs in Cisco IOS XR. This gives customers the flexibility to develop their own innovation on top of Cisco IOS XR software as well as the ability to automate operations and control their networks through software.

Specifically, we are adding to our Model-driven programmability and the recently announced Service Layer API, that we recently used to demonstrate Facebook’s Open/R protocol running on IOS XR. The new Open Forwarding Abstraction (OFA) API provides a logical representation of all the forwarding and telemetry capabilities of the underlying hardware. Developers use these capabilities to specify the packet forwarding and processing treatment they want from the data plane and provide a hardware-agnostic mapping function to other network software stacks written for a specific forwarding abstraction or data plane paradigm.

We used our OFA API to develop a P4Runtime agent that provides seamless integration of P4Runtime-enabled applications to manage multiple platforms. You can read more details about P4 here.

Third, we are announcing our innovative, new commercial offer structure for Cisco IOS XR software. This offer structure enables:

  • Simple and flexible consumption model with pay-as-you-grow (PAYG) terms and conditions
  • Built-in provision for investment protection and ongoing innovation access
  • Network-wide software licensing with resource pooling permitting capacity to be shared across the network
  • Reduced initial capital investments while permitting capitalization of new software features/upgrades

In summary, Cisco is committed to meeting the needs of our customers and continues to innovate with Cisco IOS XR software to offer a range of consumption models to our Service Provider customers. At the same time, we are committed to maintaining the 360o partnerships that our customers demand of us for their long-term business success.


Sumeet Arora

SVP Engineering

Core Software Group - US