Cisco Goes Cloud-Native for CCAP

Hoping to leave its cable rivals in the dust, Cisco is introducing a "cloud-native broadband router" to carry out the functions of conventional converged cable access platform (CCAP) hardware.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) boasts that the new product, known as the Cisco Cloud-Native Broadband Router, constitutes "a containerized, full software rewrite of CCAP services." The company says the router is "built as a set of microservices using standard tools such as Kubernetes for container orchestration and Docker for creating, deploying and operating containerized applications."

Further, Cisco describes the new router as "composable," designed as "a composition of multiple services that are elastic, resilient and flexible to support multi-cloud architectures." It also promotes the fact that the router uses "open standards-based, modular software," which is not exactly something Cisco has been known for in the past.

In a phone interview, John Holobinko, director of strategy for Cisco's cable access business, said the vendor started developing the new router about 18 months ago. He said Cisco initially considered developing a virtual machine but quickly recognized the limitations of that approach and decided to go all the way cloud-native instead.

As such, the Cisco initiative appears to represent a major leap forward for the cable industry as it seeks to virtualize its networks and shift towards fully software-based architectures. Undoubtedly, the pressure will now be on other major cable vendors like Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), Casa Systems Inc. , Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) to at least match what Cisco has produced.

"We believe other people are going to get there with cloud-native and microservices," Holobinko said. "But no one as comprehensively."

It certainly represents a big step forward for Cisco, which once ruled the cable modem termination system (CMTS)/CCAP market but now trails behind Arris in market share and has Casa nipping at its heels. Last of the major cable vendors to enter the conventional CCAP business several years ago, Cisco has been scrambling to catch up and leapfrog ahead of its competitors ever since with new products and technologies like its line of Remote PHY nodes and shelves.

"When CCAP came out, we were woefully behind," Holobinko noted. "Our CBR-8 came out after everybody else."

Cisco is unveiling its new software-based router in time for ANGACOM, the big German cable show taking place in Cologne next week. At the show, the vendor will demonstrate the router's benefits.

Holobinko said the new router in now in multiple trials with cable operators around the world. He declined to specify but said more information will be coming out later this year.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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