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Cisco Beefs Up MPLS VPN Offering

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
6/25/2002

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is taking on IP service creation boxes at the service provider edge. Today the company announced four technology enhancements to its IOS software, which will give its edge routers the added hooks to offer additional managed IP services (see Cisco Enhances MPLS VPNs).

“They are trying to provide more functionality with their MPLS VPN offering,” says Irwin Lazar, an analyst with the Burton Group. “And it will definitely make them more competitive with service creation platforms.”

This announcement is further proof that the line between edge router and service creation devices is blurring. Other edge routing companies like Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR), Unisphere Networks Inc., and Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK) all offer basic Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) VPN support. While none is specifically offering all the same features Cisco has announced today, the trend toward layering on additional services to MPLS VPN functionality is underway (see Edge Routing Gets Service Friendly ).

On the other side of the coin, service creation boxes, like those from CoSine Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: COSN) and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), have added routing protocols. For example, Nortel’s Shasta product has traditionally provided network-based VPNs using IPSec tunneling. Now the company has also added Layer 3 MPLS VPN functionality to the platform.

Cisco already supports basic Layer 2 and Layer 3 MPLS VPNs on its routers. This means that service providers can use its routers to provide managed MPLS VPN connectivity. But service providers want more than just pure connectivity. As a result, they are looking for gear that will allow them to differentiate their services and add managed services on top of basic connectivity.

”Technology enhancements can’t be made in a vacuum,” says Todd Hanson, a principal analyst with Gartner/Dataquest. "Service providers are making equipment decisions based on business case. With this announcement, Cisco seems to be bowing to that.”

Specifically, the new services offered are multicast, network address translation (NAT), on-demand address pools (ODAPs), and VPN Select. Cisco already offers address management services like NAT and OADP, along with multicast on its routers. What these enhancements do is allow service providers the ability to offer features as a managed service through a VPN, instead of just as a feature on a physical router.

Without the IOS enhancements, services would have to be replicated across all VPNs in order to connect customers. That approach is costly in terms of network resources and is complex to manage.

“I think it could finally give service providers the incentive they are looking for to deploy MPLS VPNs,” says Lazar. “I don’t think it will be the only reason, but it’s a nice bonus.”

What is important about adding these specific services? Specifically, native multicast allows VPNs to distribute high-volume information like multimedia, financial transactions, and telecommuting.

The enhancements to NAT extend address translation, allowing access to shared services from any VPN without losing connectivity. ODAP enables service providers to more effectively manage IP addresses across multiple VPNs. Cisco has also added support for broadband access with VPN Select, which allows remote users with high-speed links to connect to the corporate VPN regardless of their access providers.

The new IOS enhancements will first be available for the following Cisco routing platforms: Cisco 2600; 3600; 7200; 7500; 10,000; and GSR 12,000. The OADM and VPN Select features are available now. The NAT and multicast features are currently in field trials.

— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com Want to know more about IP VPNs? Register for Light Reading's Webinar on the topic, scheduled for July 2. Click here for more information.

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GreatFallsNetworks
GreatFallsNetworks
12/4/2012 | 10:13:02 PM
re: Cisco Beefs Up MPLS VPN Offering
Anyone really using them or a marketing hype ?
randy2000
randy2000
12/4/2012 | 10:13:01 PM
re: Cisco Beefs Up MPLS VPN Offering
It is just a marketing hype; you also saw that multicast and NAT features are in field trial. It implies that it will take at least a year to get them in a production release. Moreover, Cisco IOS 12.0S (S stands for Sh*t) and 12.0 ST (T stands for trash) are so crappy in quality that they are undeployable.
chitgo
chitgo
12/4/2012 | 10:12:58 PM
re: Cisco Beefs Up MPLS VPN Offering
Who buys them is more important than who needs them. Why do you think Cisco is #1? For their products? No chance. It's the way they market. Even the users don't dare to complain about the IOS S**t.
randy2000
randy2000
12/4/2012 | 10:12:57 PM
re: Cisco Beefs Up MPLS VPN Offering
Yep! I agree. Cisco is the MicroSoft of Networking. Marketing and agressive sales make up gor crappy products.
Light_Path
Light_Path
12/4/2012 | 10:12:56 PM
re: Cisco Beefs Up MPLS VPN Offering
Oh yes Cisco's Sh*t IOS. This is the same IOS that is leading the market. This company has managed to market and sell routers and switches with IOS in a nuclear winter. The products are good, but LR readers love to Cisco-bash so I digress..
sigint
sigint
12/4/2012 | 10:12:54 PM
re: Cisco Beefs Up MPLS VPN Offering
LR article quote:
"What is important about adding these specific services? Specifically, native multicast allows VPNs to distribute high-volume information like multimedia, financial transactions, and telecommuting."
__________________________________________________
And, we might add, in the process bring the rest of the network to its knees, the constituents of a large part of this networks being other Cisco routers. :-)
brahmos
brahmos
12/4/2012 | 10:12:54 PM
re: Cisco Beefs Up MPLS VPN Offering
marketing may push a product for a while. But
no number of pushy salesmen can make large customers pay for a product they dont need or trust...and keep doing it for years.

therein lies the fallacy of "csco is crap" thesis.
sigint
sigint
12/4/2012 | 10:12:53 PM
re: Cisco Beefs Up MPLS VPN Offering
brahmos:
marketing may push a product for a while. But
no number of pushy salesmen can make large customers pay for a product they dont need or trust...and keep doing it for years.

therein lies the fallacy of "csco is crap" thesis.
_________________________________________________
brahmos,
Using your reasoning, Microsoft Windows should be the most stable and trustworthy operating system to have ever evolved.

Should you, god-forbid, ever need coronary bypass surgery, would you trust a heart-lung machine that ran Windows ?
nyc
nyc
12/4/2012 | 10:12:51 PM
re: Cisco Beefs Up MPLS VPN Offering
Ok Cisco bashers....Yes IOS does have its share of issues...which Cisco is currently working on fixing for the long term!!! Not just stopgaps anymore.....But what else do you have that even comes close??? Junispheros??? Lets see when that merger turns their 1 architecture 1 Operating system story into swiss cheese!!! Nortel and Lucent??? One of the two will be out of business in 18 months....Along with MCI and maybe even Qwest (which buy the way are Junipers two biggest customers..) Bottom line Cisco and IOS are the most dependable entities in the networking world today....
BobbyMax
BobbyMax
12/4/2012 | 10:12:49 PM
re: Cisco Beefs Up MPLS VPN Offering
There is no dobt in my mind that IP VPN services will be provided by the big RBOCs on a nationwide basis. The issuews before the RBOCs are delays, reliability. delays across various networks, network management.

There are multiple issues which Cisco Routers do not address. Not every edge routers can function in the RBOC environment. The service creation platform for IP VPN cannot be a stand alone platform, it has to work in conjuction with other platforms.

Cisco, by large, does not have carier grade products. These products may be appropriate for enterprise networks where the stake in terms of correct is extremely important. Morover, all products must be Telcordia certified.

The soak period for the product will be at least 9 months or so. The product viability needs to be across all RBOCs and public carrier networks.

Nothing is known about the reliability of the Shasta oproduct from Nortel. Nortel acquired Shasta from a start-up in California, which is a very dangerous place. Probably the Lucent's product because of its depth and breadth of experience may be more appropriate.
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