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Segment Routing: Why Smart is the New Simple


November 16, 2016 - 0 Comments

Network managers may be as gripped by the latest online TV series as much as their customers. They may not feel quite so thrilled, though, when they see the demand on their service doubling every 18 months as a result of the binge-watching trend.

It’s no secret that the popularity of video content – not to mention growing numbers of people and devices accessing the internet, and the rise of a tech-addicted younger generation – is driving an explosion of internet use.

In one sense this is great news for service providers, but the sheer pace of the increase in demand is causing headaches. One way of addressing the problem is with more equipment: bigger routers, and more of them. But this means more capital spending, and more complex networks, which are more expensive to operate. It’s a vicious circle, and one that threatens to spiral out of control.

At Cisco, we’re at the forefront of innovations in programmable networks that offer a different way out. Segment routing is a standards-based, intelligent software solution to a hardware capacity problem that simplifies, optimises, and reduces costs all at once.

 

A New Lease on Life

Segment routing is a new way of transporting data that brings operational efficiencies and lower costs. Essentially, it can program data packets to flow through your network in a more intelligent way, using bandwidth more effectively and getting faster to where they need to be. It’s a simpler system that optimises your network’s traffic and extends its capacity.

Without going too deeply into the technical details, these are the key advantages of segment routing:

  • traffic can be directed in the most optimal way from any point within the system, because you can implement segment routing anywhere on the network – on fixed or mobile elements, within a data centre or at access points
  • your services can be made more resilient through automatic back up paths – if a link fails, traffic can be automatically routed around it within 50 milliseconds.

All this is achieved often not by buying new equipment, but by making your existing infrastructure work better for you. The beauty of segment routing is that it enables the central automated control that can direct data automatically, but retains enough distributed intelligence in the system to allow individual network links to react to local issues.

Instead of constantly playing catch-up, you’ll be getting real results from your investment and instilling your network with a new lease of life. We understand complexity – which means we can make it as simple as possible for you.

Laying the Foundations for Innovation

Segment routing drives immediate results by making your business more efficient. What’s more, you’ll also see benefits in the longer term, because the technology is scalable and lays the foundations for further improvements and innovation.

When the intelligent data transport enabled by segment routing is combined with a central SDN controller, it means that your applications and your network infrastructure can work together more effectively than ever before. This creates even more powerful efficiencies – and it’s from these kind of interactions where some of the key innovations of the future will come.

Forward-looking service providers are already using the technology to enable them to better meet the expectations of today’s customers. This year, Wolfe.net implemented segment routing to help them simplify and speed up their delivery of MPLS to the customer edge. The company is now able to provide big chunks of bandwidth to broadcasters and for special events such as gaming conventions.

“It provides me with the network simplification and service flexibility I need to differentiate Wolfe.net in a competitive market,” says Michael Scott, the company’s general manager.

In terms of the technology it works with, segment routing looks backwards and forwards – it helps you get the best out of MPLS while equally being IPv6 ready. So setting it up not only creates an agile, efficient network – it also allows service providers to grow their business by creating exciting new products and bringing them rapidly onto the market – something we’ll talk more in the video interview.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • It’s no secret that the world is seeing an explosion of internet use. In one sense this is great news for service providers, but the sheer pace of the increase in demand is causing headaches.
  • One way of addressing the problem is with more equipment. But this means more capital spending, and more complex networks, which are more expensive to operate. It’s a vicious circle that threatens to spiral out of control.
  • Segment routing offers another way out – it’s a new way of transporting data in a more intelligent way, optimising networks’ traffic and extending their capacity.
  • The beauty of segment routing is that it enables the central automated control that can direct data automatically, but retains enough distributed intelligence in the system to allow individual network links to react to local issues.
  • In terms of the technology it works with, segment routing looks backwards and forwards – it helps you get the best out of MPLS while equally being compatible with IPv6. So it’s future-ready while making the most of the present.
  • If you want to learn more: visit our Evolved Programmable Network page.

 

 



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