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Continuous Innovation with IOS XR

- February 13, 2018 - 0 Comments

Digitization impacts every industry and makes software more predominant than ever. The networking industry is no exception to it. As barriers to entry get much lower than in the past, merely delivering software innovations no longer suffices – it needs to be done with high velocity and quality. Moreover, software innovation is not only coming from the inside but also from the outside and agility to quickly leverage and integrate any inside/outside innovation becomes essential.

Over the past few years, we transformed our engineering organization to adapt to these changes and I’m really pleased to see we are now delivering software innovations at a pace we could not have imagined possible before. Here are some great examples:

At Cisco Live Barcelona, we recently announced Flexible Algorithm, a new addition to the Segment Routing Traffic Engineering (SR TE) toolkit. In a nutshell, this new SR TE capability makes multiple optimizations of the same physical network infrastructure along various dimensions possible – low-latency, bandwidth, … This is very important innovation as more and more diverse applications hit the network, driven by the upcoming surge in 5G services, and require a custom-fit transport with a simple and scalable TE solution – this is what I like to refer to as Traffic Engineering for the masses. Segment Routing is all about bringing simplicity and scalability to make network infrastructures SDN-ready. If you want to know more, watch the video I recently recorded with Ray Mota from ACG Research.

Network programmability is another area of focus as this is a major enabler for Service Providers to further automate network operations. We continue to invest heavily in enabling model-driven programmability.  Last week, we released support for the Go language in the YANG Development Kit (YDK-Go). It harnesses the portability, scalability, simplicity, and speed of the Go language with the ease-of-use and the feature richness of YDK.   This new SDK complements the existing Python (YDK-Py) and C++ (YDK-C++) packages to make the benefits of data-model network manageability equally accessible to the novice and seasoned programmers.

At Nanog71, we introduced model-driven APIs (called the Service Layer APIs) at the network infrastructure layer of the IOS XR that allow users to directly program the IOS XR Routing Information Base (RIB) and Label Switch Database to get notifications for interface and Bidirectional Forwarding Detection (BFD) events. These APIs were meant to enable customers to integrate their own agents and controllers with IOS XR in a highly performant and programmable fashion and realize the best of both the worlds.

The capacity to quickly leverage and integrate software innovations is key to delivering incremental value to our customers. A great example is Open/R, which was originally designed as a shortest-path routing system to power Terragraph, a multi-node wireless network that delivers high-speed internet connectivity in dense urban areas via short-hop transmission between small nodes. Within a month of Facebook open-sourcing Open/R, we had it up and running on IOS XR as a routing protocol (integration code can be accessed on Github). We did this with IOS XR application hosting capabilities—hosting Linux applications such as Open/R in a container and our Service Layer API. To see Open/R and IOS XR integration in action, check out this demo at Networking Field Day 17.

If you attend NANOG 72 in Atlanta this month, come and visit us at Beer n’ Gear where we will be showcasing Open/R integration with IOS XR. And be sure to check out these Cisco sessions:

  • “Data model-driven management: the latest industry and tool developments” – Benoit Claise, on February, 19th from 4:00 to 4:50pm
  • “Network Operational Simplicity via Zero Touch Deployment (ZTD)” – Patrick Warichet, on February, 20th from 10:30am to 11:30am
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