While none of the announcements alone really rock the routing world, they do provide much-needed responses to Cisco's competitors, as well as a stop-gap measure for Cisco's elusive HFR core router. Specifically, Cisco has enhanced its 7600 edge router product line, added new routers to its GSR 12000 family, and unveiled the latest member of its high-end 12000 routers.
For the 7600, Cisco is trotting out new Internetwork Operating System (IOS) enhancements, such as the addition of Layer 2 Virtual Private LAN Service, and new cards that sport faster CPUs and bigger switch fabrics. The new bells and whistles are meant to entice users who hope to upgrade from installed 7500 boxes.
It's possible that Cisco is feeling some heat on the edge, as the 7500 is a mature platform and competitors such as Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) have been banging on about their own "7500 replacement" programs (see Juniper Touts New Edge Lineup).
While enhancing the 7600, Cisco is also pushing the 12000 line farther out to the edge, a trend that's been going on for a while (see Cisco GSR 12000 Sent to the Edge). The new 12010 and 12006 boxes might seem redundant, given that Cisco already has an established line of edge routers, but these offerings bring an ATM/Frame Relay focus to the edge, a contrast to the Ethernet-focused 7600.
Then again, redundancy might be part of the plan all along. "There is a good degree of overlap between the 10000, 7600, and now the 12000, which enables Cisco to pretty much have a solution for just about any service provider scenario. I think it's mostly a case of Cisco trying to cover every possible gap in its product line," says Joe McGarvey, analyst with Current Analysis.
Finally, the 12000 family is getting a booster shot at the high end, as Cisco announced the 12810 and 12816, with switch fabrics that reach 1.28 Tbit/s of capacity (that is, if you count the incoming and outgoing traffic separately). Cisco has had these models on its Website since last year (see Cisco's Got a Terabit Router Too). Each slot of the 12800 series can handle 40 Gbit/s -- that is, two OC192 lines, multiplied by two for being bidirectional. Cisco officials note that they can turn any of the installed 12000 series routers into one of the 12800 boxes by simply upgrading the switch fabric.
Table 1: Cisco's 12000 Series Routers
|Chassis||Rack Size||Slots||Full Duplex Switching Capacity|
|12016||Full||16||80 Gbit/s (upgradable to 320 Gbit/s)|
|Source: Cisco Systems Inc.|
The new 12800s, big and fast though they may be, are single chassis stopgaps when compared to the long-awaited Huge Fast Router (HFR), a multichassis architecture that would represent a true next-generation core offering (see Source: Cisco's HFR Tips the Scales).
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading