Back in 2011, web pioneer Marc Andreessen wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, entitled “Why software is eating the world”. I couldn’t agree more!

First, let’s have a look at what’s going on in the industry at large. Every company in every vertical industry is facing unprecedented competitive pressure from new players making innovative usage of software and data analytics. It forces companies to embark on a digitization journey, which ends up having profound consequences on network infrastructure.


Great, so what does it mean to the network and to you?

The network infrastructure is facing increasing expectations driven by the quantity and diversity of things coming online. This requires the network to scale in an unprecedented fashion, reach frontiers it has not reached before, and demonstrate flexibility. Flexibility to deal with ever changing traffic patterns – be it in volume or in time. Flexibility to support innovation at the edge that enables various verticals to be digitized. These new requirements in terms of scale, reach, and flexibility necessitate a shift in the approach to networking. And to put more strain on your shoulders, the pace of change has never been so fast!

This is where software innovations come into play to help transform your network infrastructure so you can fully benefit from Digitization opportunities.

These innovations are founded on the following four tenets, which can be seen here:

We are turbocharging and evolving IOS XR with these new software innovations.

By the way, do you know how many live network devices run IOS XR today?

50’000+, so by evolving IOS XR we are protecting your investment!

Willing to know more?

Let’s start with automation.

You should make no compromise about it, as this is a key value driver to achieve operational efficiency. Anything and everything we do with the network should be automated.

Would you like to onboard new networking devices as simply and fast as your IT colleagues do with servers?

This is now possible with new capabilities such as flexible boot, and zero touch provisioning.

You are extensively using Command Line Interfaces (CLI) to configure networking devices and you’re spending more and more time developing CLI scripts that get more complex every day…

Would you like to free up time and focus on tasks that really matter?

By supporting an extensive set of 100+ IOS-XR native YANG based data models, and available OpenConfig models (industry’s widest set of structured data model driven high performance APIs), we enable total network automation across the WAN routing and transport parts of the network.

With a paradigm of Any Data Model (YANG, OpenConfig, IETF), Any Encoding (XML, JSON), and Any Transport (NetConf, RestConf, gRPC), IOS-XR is very adaptive to the varying operational environments across our customer base.

You do not need to adapt to IOS-XR but to the contrary, IOS-XR will adapt to your environment!

Visibility and control

Along with massive scale, there are new demands being placed on the network in terms of application SLA, security, and optimal cost efficiency.

SNMP cannot scale to provide the massive amounts of network operational data that is needed to intelligently align the network to application performance, security, and optimization goals.

You need a solution that scales 10X. Streaming telemetry is one such approach.

IOS-XR streaming telemetry provides model driven, edge-optimized, wide coverage operational data with predictable and high performance. The amount of data you can pull out of network devices running IOS-XR is 10X that of traditional infrastructure built with SNMP.

This visibility opens up many new possibilities. For example, in combination with IOS-XR Application Engineered Routing, telemetry data can be used to push up link utilization or scrub flows for security reasons savings costs, and protecting brand value.

Simplification is another key tenet, as you can’t achieve scale with complexity.

Good news is you can now benefit from a modular IOS-XR with Linux style operations. We are creating the ability to asynchronously deliver high velocity SW components at a speed of delivery that meets your needs much faster via a fully automated process inside.

We are also packaging SW according to the role in the network. So while an optical transport node, running IOS-XR, will exhibit the same operational semantics, as a router running IOS-XR, the modules that are packaged in it will be different compared to the ones packaged on a router.

By leading and actively participating in data model standardization efforts and supporting OpenConfig models at speed, we are making it easier to integrate IOS-XR into your environment.

Application engineered routing aka segment routing is also available in IOS-XR to enable simplification of network designs, operate in SDN or hybrid SDN designs, and give a lot of control back to you.

All these new capabilities are built with simplification in mind.

Finally, not every innovation will come from our side moving forward – you can be the innovator too!

IOS-XR is also being set up as an open innovation platform.  With ability to deploy any 3rd party application from the Linux eco-system and extend SW with the powerful set of APIs, we are enabling Cisco and 3rd party innovation to co-exist and combine to create a powerful platform.

Software innovations continue to disrupt and solve the world’s largest challenges and at Cisco we are confident these innovations will pave the way to transforming your network infrastructure and in doing so you will benefit from Digitization opportunities. With IOS-XR software innovations in the areas of total automation, visibility and control, simplification and open innovation capabilities, we believe the network is well equipped to be a transformative engine for the Digital Age.

We certainly want to hear from you. Please reply back or tweet us @CiscoSP360 and give us your thoughts on digitization, these IOS-XR software innovations and where you are at on your journey towards Digitization.

Learn more about our recently announced software solutions for cloud scale networking.


Sumeet Arora

SVP Engineering

Core Software Group - US