Cisco: 10 Gigs and IP Everywhere
"In a metro dominated by services, we believe in a multiservice platform that can handle legacy traffic," says Carl Russo, Cisco's group vice president of optical networking. "You also want to be able to add capacity and speed as you add services. So [the ONS 15454] has continued to be the market leader -- the multiservice platform that people know and love."
Cisco also talked up various members of its 7400, 7600, 10000, and 12000 Internet backbone router families, hammering home the point that service providers selecting Cisco can benefit from using the same router architecture throughout their networks (see Cisco Juices Up Routers).
One specific announcement was Cisco's 10005 Internet router, which is basically the 10008 in a smaller package. This product is said to be the first to provide both IPSec and MPLS-based (multiprotocol label switching) virtual private networks. But as speeds and feeds go, Cisco's 10000 series is being chased by Celox Networks, Unisphere Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: UNSP), and others (see Celox Comes Out and Unisphere Sharpens Its Edge). Of course, the similarities between Cisco's enterprise routers and its new routers targeted toward service providers doesn't go unnoticed here in Atlanta. Indeed, many still doubt Cisco is really attuned to what service providers want.
In fact, competitors immediately jumped on Cisco's new positioning of its routing products.
"Those are enterprise products, aren't they?" asked Hugh Martin, CEO of ONI Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ONIS) when questioned about Cisco's announcements. "I really don't think Cisco understands how to sell to service providers."
"It sounds like they've rebranded the Cisco 6000 Catalyst switches and added WAN capabilities," says Kevin Dillion, Juniper Networks Inc.'s (Nasdaq: JNPR) director of product marketing.
But in terms of the sheer bulk of the announcements, with the 10-Gbit/s theme running throughout, the marketing assault was impressive. Another standout among the router hubbub was Cisco's new 12406 Internet Router, a 10-Gbit/s box with six line-card slots and 120-Gbit/s total throughput. Service Providers can fit four of these new routers in a single telco rack, making it the smallest OC192 router form factor in the market today, says Robert Redford, vice president of marketing for Cisco's public carrier IP group. This box competes directly with the M40 and M160 routers from Juniper.
"Some time ago the rub was: 'When is Cisco going to have OC192?' " says Russo. "Now we have it, and we have it across several product lines."
The company is also improving its 12000 Manager software so that service providers can spend less time deploying routers and more time charging for IP services.
The sum of Cisco's efforts here is to convince service providers that by being steeped in both the optical networking and IP routing worlds at the same time, it has a better handle on how to better build new, smart networks. To wit, it adds optical interfaces to IP routers and other gear; it adds packet and routing features to its optical transport gear. And the whole thing is controlled by a single network management system.
It's an elegant vision, but, as some of its setbacks this year show, straddling the worlds of enterprise customers and big carriers, though necessary, quite often makes it hard to put one foot in front of the other. But a firm with Cisco's resources doesn't stay down when it stumbles.
According to analysts at Salomon Smith Barney, Kevin Kennedy, senior vice president of Cisco's service provider line of business, said today that Cisco has seen increased activity in its service provider business lately.
"Although he stopped short of saying increased revenues, he did indicate an increase in future commitments from service providers to buy equipment," the analysts wrote in a note to clients. The optical business is showing the most improvement of all, the note stated.
- Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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