Optical/IP Networks

Chambers Expects Cisco Dominance

More than just a product rollout, today's launch of the CRS-1 core router is the first step in Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) latest march on the networking industry, according to CEO John Chambers.

At this morning's media event to launch the router formerly known as HFR, Chambers said Cisco aims to dominate in multiple product categories from core routing down to enterprise and even retail boxes. It's a grandiose and "complex" goal, Chambers says. "Nobody's ever done this in more than one or two product categories."

Chamber's talk was part of a glitzy media event at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. The program's demos included what Cisco claimed was the first OC768 IP transmission, running through CRS-1s at MCI Inc. (Nasdaq: WCOEQ, MCWEQ) points of presence around the Bay Area.

The bulk of the event had senior VP Mike Volpi explaining the new router, but Chambers led off by describing the big vision, hinting that the CRS-1 technology will permeate Cisco's product portfolio eventually

Analysts suspect that IOS XR, the newly crafted operating system driving the CRS-1, will find its way into Cisco's other routers (see Cisco Unveils the HFR). Chambers didn't verify that explicitly, but he did say to expect a barrage of product announcements in both routers and switches during the next 12 months.

He also spoke of Cisco launching its new phase of technology, emphasizing that the CRS-1 had been built from scratch because an extension of previous products wouldn't be up to the task of serving carrier networks. "I'm not talking about an extension of existing routing. I'm talking about a whole new generation," Chambers says.

He also pointed to some of the differences between the CRS-1 and Cisco's previous routers, such as a longevity intended for carrier networks rather than the enterprise. "Once it's in place, we want it to be there one or two decades," he says.

Justifying the CRS-1's immense size -- 72 of the routers can be linked to take in 46 Tbit/s of traffic -- Chambers said he expects Internet growth to accelerate to 400 or 500 percent per year, based on numbers reported by Asian carriers being buoyed by online gaming and other high-end applications. "Every time we've talked about scaleability, we've also drasticallly underestimated the demand on the networks."

Cisco got one bonus announcement out of the event: The CRS-1 is running live traffic. Sprint Corp. (NYSE: FON), which has been involved with the CRS-1 since its early days, has installed a single chassis in its San Jose, Calif., facility, said Kathryn Walker, Sprint's executive vice president of network services. Volpi, on stage at the time, said even he wasn't aware this had happened.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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