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June 12, 2013

Cisco News - Cisco Adds Carrier Routing System X (CRS-X) Core Router to its Portfolio

By Peter Bernstein, Senior Editor

Way too many years ago, I was at a presentation by a long-gone network router company and was impressed by the opening statement of their CEO. He proclaimed, “One thing is inevitable, there will always be demand for more bandwidth and higher speeds…If we build it they will come.”  Let’s just say he got that part right at least. In fact, it can be argued that we have entered an era of such explosive data traffic growth that supply push has been overtaken by demand pull. Network operators are challenged to keep up as the data tsunami continues to gather strength. 

It is for this reason that the latest addition to Cisco’s (News - Alert) Carrier Routing System (CRS) portfolio, the Carrier Routing System-X (CRS-X), is worth taking a look at. 

No need to forklift the core 

Sri Hosakote, VP/GM, High End Routing and Optical Group, Cisco, put it well when he said, “Nobody wants to forklift the core.”   He observed that key architectural components of carrier networks need to be in place for decades. This means they should be designed to accommodate not just network traffic growth but also be easily migrated to state-of-the-art functionality, and ride the technology curve in the critical area of IP and Optical convergence.

 Cisco’s CRS portfolio has been a mainstay in various networks for the past decade with more than 750 customers who have installed more than 10,000 systems worldwide. A look under the hood of the CRS-X (as in X for the number 10) demonstrates Cisco’s commitment to help customers provide the bandwidth operators need in their cores to meet the challenges of the data tsunami. 

This will be a non-trivial task. As the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast (2012-2017), issued in May 2013 predicts, global IP traffic will grow threefold from 2012 to 2017, reaching an annual run rate of 1.4 zettabytes by the end of 2017, up from an annual run rate of 522.8 exabytes at the end of 2012. Indeed, this traffic growth and complexity is driving IP and Optical convergence at the core of the network, and is mandating solutions that are adroit at handling multiservice, multipath and multi-access traffic and can support massive scale, continuous operation, cloud intelligence, carrier-grade network services, and IP and optical convergence. 

As to that look at under the hood, here are the key benefits Cisco is citing for the CRS-X:

  • Line cards support  4x100 GE and 400 Gbps per slot enabling economical scale of 64x100 GE ports in one chassis with a total multi-chassis system capacity of nearly one petabit per second.
  • The CRS-X 400 GE Line Card with Cisco AnyPort Technology uses Cisco’s CMOS photonic CPAK to reduce power consumption and increase 100 GE port densities by a factor of three compared to competitive solutions.
  • CPAK also enables network operators to mix and match interface rates (10 GE, 40 GE, and 100 GE) and distances (SR, ER, and LR) within a single card.
  • The CRS-X uses the IOS-XR software, a self-healing and self-defending operating system designed for “always on” operation while scaling system capacity.
  • Cisco nV Technology along with nLight Technology enables the optical transport equipment to be managed as a single entity, simplifying provisioning and network operations for dense 100 GE.

For those who are not technical experts in this area, the way to think about this is that Cisco is providing an exponential increase in core routing features and functionality at very high speeds, but doing so in a cost effective manner. They enable customers—who include not just service providers but also very large corporations and government agencies— to not go through the pain of a major over haul of their core network resources and the facilities that house them. 

In fact, Cisco points to the value the CRS portfolio has delivered over the years saying it has:  increased system capacity 10-fold in nearly 10 years; reduced customer  their total cost of ownership (TCO) by nearly 50 percent compared with competitive solutions; delivered customers 80 percent power savings, and a 76 percent savings in transport costs.  They add that the CRS-X is designed so that existing CRS-1 and CRS-3 customers can be easily upgrade with minimal traffic impact by migrating to CRS-X capability with simple in-service replacement cards.   

Surya Panditi, senior VP/GM , Cisco’s Service Provider Networking Group stated,“Cisco CPAK technology and 400 Gbps per slot CRS-X demonstrate Cisco’s commitment to leading the industry in IP core technology and protecting the investment of our existing CRS customers.”

Cisco’s statements about the significance of the CRS-X were echoed by two important customers. Mike Haberman, vice president of network operations, Verizon (News - Alert) Wireless added, “The Cisco CRS provides Verizon Wireless with an intelligent core solution and the ability to scale up to 400 Gbps per slot, which will meet our service demands well into the future.” 

Junichi Miyakawa, executive vice president, board director & CTO, SoftBank Mobile Corporation further commented,“We are very pleased at the continued development of the Cisco CRS platform, which has served as the foundation of our advanced network infrastructure for many years. With the ability to scale to 400 gigabits per second and highly available architecture, the CRS continues to provide unparalleled investment protection and help ensure SoftBank Mobile’s ability to remain one of the leading broadband content and service providers in Japan.”

As the Cisco VNI predicts, networks are going to be awash in data traffic at an accelerating rate. To keep up with demand, it is not just the last inch, mile and network edge that need to be upgraded, but in an IP-centric end-to-end networking world as with the human body, longevity is based on building up the core. 400 Gbps per slot certainly is a muscle enhancer that the industry needs, and getting there in a manner that is easy, cost-effective and non-disruptive, along with durable is a path most large network operators are going to be following. The demand is there and so is the opportunity to monetize it in an optimized manner.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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