Cisco Makes Metro Move

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) upped the ante in the metro network market this week with the announcement of the 7600 Optical Switch Router (OSR), a product that will compete with switch-routers from Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR), Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY), and Riverstone Networks, as well as edge routers from Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) (see Cisco Announces New Router).

Big news? Yes and no. On the one hand there is nothing really new about the 7600 OSR. It's actually a combination of the switching fabric of Cisco's existing Catalyst 6500, mixed in with the Layer 3 IOS routing software from its olde worlde 7500 router. The resulting hybrid is garnished with some new and faster ATM, packet over Sonet (POS), and gigabit Ethernet interfaces at speeds ranging from OC3 (155 Mbit/s) to OC48 (2.5 Gbit/s).

“It's basically a Catalyst 6500 enterprise L3 switch that's been re-purposed to be used in the metro service provider space, like many of the other Layer 3 boxes” says Dave Passmore, research director for the Burton Group.

Cisco acknowledges that the 7600 OSR combines technology from these two product lines, but it emphasizes that it has added new features specifically for the carrier market.

“The OSR is really an extension of our routing products and allows customers to migrate to optical speeds,” says Chris McGugan, senior manager of marketing for Cisco’s Internet systems business unit. “It also provides very rich, high touch optical services that providers need.”

Some analysts like Deb Mielke, principal at Treillage Network Strategies Inc. see the new 7600 OSR as a way to fill in the gap between Cisco’s large GSR 12000 routers in the core, and the older and slower 7500 routers -- which are usually deployed in service provider points of presence (POPs). With a 256-Gbit/s switching fabric and a 30 million packet per second (pps) forwarding engine, Mielke sees the architecture working well to fill this need.

But others read the introduction of the 7600 OSR as a sign.

“Cisco seems to have finally acknowledged that the 7500 router has become obsolete for service provider networks,” says Passmore.

The new 7600 OSR can be used for basic metro aggregation, using the cheaper, high-density Catalyst 6500 interfaces, or it can be used in place of the 7500 for edge routing in a POP -- performing more advanced billing, traffic shaping, quality of service, and accounting. Cisco says that even with all these fancy features turned on, the 7600 OSR can still route at wire speed due to its Parallel Express Forwarding processors.

One advantage of the 7600 OSR’s familiar architecture is that the new chassis accepts line cards from both the Catalyst 6500 product family as well as the 7500 router. This will help users retain value in existing equipment.

“Cisco has done a great job at leveraging components from both the 6509 and the 7500 for the new box,” says Chris Kozup, research analyst with Meta Group Inc.. “If you look at the past [Catalyst 8540 and 5500] there has been little investment protection for customers wanting to move to the next-generation box.”

But there are some downsides. For one, the device doesn’t offer multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) in the first release. While many pundits point out that MPLS is still in its early stages of adoption, competitor Riverstone has already announced support for this feature in its metro products (see Riverstone Scores a Coup).

Another feature missing is support for resilient packet ring (RPR)-like protocols -- including Cisco’s own Dynamic Packet Transport (DPT) -- that will provide protection on ring-based topologies. Even though RPR hasn’t been standardized yet, the GSR 12000 and the 7500 platform both support DPT.

“ I believe the reason Cisco hasn't included MPLS or DPT in this release is due to the fact that they wanted to get this box to market so as to not lose customers,” says Kozup. “The Catalyst 6509 wasn't able to compete on the same level with competitive products from Extreme, Riverstone, and Foundry.”

-- Marguerite Reardon, senior editor, Light Reading, http://www.lightreading.com

metroman 12/4/2012 | 8:50:46 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move It's obvious who Terry works for.

SteveS said "my dear colleagues at Cisco" in reference to the poor treatment they were getting at the hands of Lightreading. This was with a view to advertising on the site to get better press.

In response Terry said "WE should not advertise here". And then there was a typically arrogant comment about the others withering on the vine.
All I can tell you is that the rest of the industry is the Premier Cru to your Asti Spumanti.
erry 12/4/2012 | 8:51:01 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move Hi:

Hope you enjoyed the humour. Willing to stop the antics, however, to the lr/x882 crowd - no more midnight dingdong ditch - the authorities know, and so will all of shr/the world if you keep this up. We all have friends.

Over and out 4 good,
SPARKLE 12/4/2012 | 8:51:01 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move Subject line is the bulk of content regarding this guy. It appears as though he not only can't contribute positively to a given situation but feels he must try to impress other readers

Hey Terry, who do you work for so my friends and I can avoid you/them like the plague?

Get a life dude.
pingu 12/4/2012 | 8:51:03 PM

Tell me, Stan, which magazines are not businesses?

EVERY article "is based on heresay, innuendo, gossip, rumors...and, yes, VESTED INTERESTS"?!?!? That charge is phrased in such a ludicrous and unbalanced manner that it PROVES you are NOT CREDIBLE at all!! I mean, really.

Also, why don't you share the research you've apparently done which links LightReading's "preferential coverage" with its "vested interests"? Or do you just prefer innuendo yourself?

Respectfully or not,
metroman 12/4/2012 | 8:51:03 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move A couple of points for the non-indoctrinated masses:

The point that Cisco should advertise seems to suggest that, because you invest money in someone they will be favourable about your product. How short your memory is, remember "Vendor Financing" how much did lose on that one?

If by waving cash under the noses of magazines you think you will get better treatment; what you are saying is that your product sucks. If your product was any good you would get good reviews.

Tell me one point from the Lightreading report into this product that is inaccurate? Well?

Abandon Cisco the ship has run-aground and the Stock option refugees are leaving. Stop being so arrogant, wake up and smell the coffee. If you want respect from your peers, build a decent product, lose graciously and learn from the success of others. If you don't then it's curtains for the Big C.
pingu 12/4/2012 | 8:51:04 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move Any whinger can make complaints to the FCC or the SEC. Whether these complaints hold any water is another matter entirely, however. Companies which run crying to the government to "protect" them are usually crap companies IMO.

I find the critical reporting from LightReading to be a refreshing change from the managed corporate PR flow. The LightReading guys are JOURNALISTS, first and foremost. That means they go out and ask tough questions and try to get to the bottom of a story, with or without a company's stamp of approval.

This story on Cisco is a perfect case in point. I don't know whether or not Marguerite Reardon is an expert in fiber optics or telecommunications, but she clearly is a good journalist. She chose a timely topic, solicited the opinions of a variety of credible sources, and wrote a balanced, informative piece.

Her piece was informed largely by what she learned from three analysts: Dave Passmore, research director for the Burton Group, Deb Mielke, principal at Treillage Network Strategies Inc; and Chris Kozup, research analyst with Meta Group Inc. These three gave a mix of positive and negative comments.

But NO ONE here seems to have anything to say about these people Marguerite cited, just that LightReading has slammed Cisco in five articles. Several posters here somehow think that being "balanced" means that if you write three negative articles about Cisco, you need to write three positive articles too.

The writing at LightReading sometimes can be sensationalistic, but any good reader should be able to discount this accordingly and still find golden nuggets of information that CANNOT be found elsewhere.

erry 12/4/2012 | 8:51:05 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move Hi SteveS:

You are joking about advertising, right? I do not think we should be advertising.

This Lightreading group may be in alot of hot water soon. I hold one of the equipment vendor rotating seats on the Carrier Relations Committee, and I found out after one of our sessions recently that at least a few service providers have sent several complaints to the FCC about Lightreading. Some agency within the FCC is looking into the complaints. If they decide to move on the complaints, it is not going to be fun to be Lightreading, or a Lightreading investor or advertiser.

We have helped build so much of the internet. Let's stick to our business, and ignore all of the lies that these guys write. Let these guys whither on the vine.

go_csco 12/4/2012 | 8:51:05 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move "...I thought, OSR meant Optical "Services" Router..."

You are correct.
It is not an optical switch.


neveragain 12/4/2012 | 8:51:06 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move
"Optical Switch Router = POS interfaces...yawn."

I thought, OSR meant Optical "Services" Router...

go_csco 12/4/2012 | 8:51:06 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move "...Even Nortel is working on more complex stuff than this....like OPC (-O-nly a -P-aper -C-oncept) which is packet to lambda directly..."


Yeah when Nortel or anybody for that matter figures out how to map an IP address to a photon for transport over lamdas, I'd be impressed. What does Nortel call this address a PAC(Photon Access Control) address?....

I'm pretty sure Nortel is a lot closer than Cisco is to making this happen considering their extensive and impressive track record with IP...


jsailor 12/4/2012 | 8:51:07 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move If you wanted all of that wouldn't you just call Village Networks?

"Just because you plug fiber into the box doesn't make it an OPTICAL SWITCH. POS and GigE and ATM on glass are wicked old shit, get with the program and do some hard shit like switching IP to Lambda's or DWDM switching, etc."
ExNortel 12/4/2012 | 8:51:07 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move So, what's so optical about it? No DWDM, no Lambda switching, nothing intelligent...just more packet interfaces, and probably half line rate at that, again.

Optical Switch Router = POS interfaces...yawn.

<sarcasm on="">
Just because you plug fiber into the box doesn't make it an OPTICAL SWITCH. POS and GigE and ATM on glass are wicked old shit, get with the program and do some hard shit like switching IP to Lambda's or DWDM switching, etc.

When will you guys learn...yawn yawn yawn....more of the same.

Even Nortel is working on more complex stuff than this....like OPC (-O-nly a -P-aper -C-oncept) which is packet to lambda directly.

Not sure if we'll see it though before Roth loses his job and all the law suits come to an end (5 years or so) for all that nasty stock stuff over the last few weeks. EEEGADDDSS!
Stan 12/4/2012 | 8:51:09 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move I hate to admit it, but I agree with this message to Cisco. Though I don't think advertisers are the only ones who receive preferencial coverage. It is also companies backed by LIGHTSPEED (do the research folks)

Steve Saunders will write an occasiional postive article about a non-LS company to cover his tracks, but Lightreading is a joke, and anyone who reads it should know most every article is based on heresay, innuendo, gossip, rumors...and, yes, VESTED INTERESTS.


Sorry Stevie baby. Truth hurts I bet.

I also reccomend that all LIghtreading
advertisers pull out now and back a new publication. Any journalist with a fair amount of credibility should be drooling at the opportunity to launch a new optical networking web magazine.

SteveS 12/4/2012 | 8:51:11 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move To my dear colleagues at Cisco:
If you haven't put it together already, we should be advertising on this site.
The "accuracy" of LightReading's coverage will improve enormously, and our record of 5 for 5 negative articles should turn in the other direction.
2thePoint 12/4/2012 | 8:51:12 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move I have to apologize for SmartBoy... he is upset because his stock options are worthless... try building a real product next time..
props 12/4/2012 | 8:51:14 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move "Will be" "will be" I think the deficiencies are explicit. Unless you consider non-existant or non-compliant features posing as current features OK. But then you'd be working for Cisco, wouldn't you?
koll 12/4/2012 | 8:51:15 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move get real, mpls will be supported in the future releases. since it accepts 7500 port adapters dpt will be supported also. the only deficiencies are in your thinking.
pablo 12/4/2012 | 8:51:20 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move
I don't think that Cisco competes any dirtier than any other company. In fact, I do still remember the days when Cisco started to try to win service providers credibility, and it was Nortel and Lucent blatantly exploiting politics to keep the newcomer out. How quickly people forget. I don't think Cisco carries half the political cloud that Nortel and Lucent used to in their heyday. Cisco in fact has paved the road for many other companies in this space, I think. And having worked @ Cisco before, I know that throwing dirt at competitors is not at all part of corporate philosophy. I do have some critical views on Cisco, some quite harsh, because I think it did miss a couple of opportunities to exploit some opportunities far more effectively, and yet I can truly not at all agree that it competes unfairly, or that it outright lies. Chambers is way too much of a gentleman to rule over such an organization.

Like everybody else, Cisco has been hit and is somewhat dazed in the ropes right now. But I do think they'll come back with phenomenal force. Think about which other company has all the end-to-end ingredients you have to mix into exciting New World infrastrcutures, and in my opinion Cisco's mix of people in a dynamic organization, technology mix through acquisition, and finally IP core expertise, comes out on top. It is not untouchablke, and it will lose some of its dominance in some segments, but it'll still be a hell of a successs story once everything is said in done 10 years down the road.
guru 12/4/2012 | 8:51:21 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move People slam cisco because if you have ever had to compete with them it is like taking on Microsoft. They use whatever tactics they need to win - politics, FUD, dirt.

Everyone is going to kick them while they are down. They are still a great company though and deserve respect.

I heard from people at Exodus that the new switch is pretty good. i think they have been demoing it under NDA for a while.
pablo 12/4/2012 | 8:51:23 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move
Note that I do not work for Cisco. The trade press in general is always very critical when it comes to Cisco. To a large degree, Cisco has itself to blame for that. It's marketing team has never been that great at wooing press folks, and tended to be somewhat condescending. In the good times, the march orders were "We only care about paying customers, don't like to waste time with ignorant press types".

LightReading isn't doing anything that Network Magazine or other don't do, only Light Reading does it in their usual edgier style. I don't know of any companies that escape the occasional sarcastic remark from the LR editors, really.

desade 12/4/2012 | 8:51:26 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move Why are Cisco people always whining? God that's annoying. Stop whining about bad press and DO SOMETHING REMARKABLE OR SHUT UP.
TechnoBabble 12/4/2012 | 8:51:27 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move Has anyone got their hands on this box yet? It looks great on paper, and has the potential to kick butt in the market.

SmartBoy 12/4/2012 | 8:51:29 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move props,

Get real.. Customers evaluate a box before buying it. I do not expect real customers to read light reading sarcastic articles and make buying decisions. I guess you are working on a product
that competes with this one. You are expecting LR to throw dirt on all other competetors so that you
look better.. They will catch you one day, when you become big..
SmartBoy 12/4/2012 | 8:51:29 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move I always find that Light Reading writes anti-Cisco articles. Even if Cisco has some good news to give to the community, light reading puts a slant and sarcasm in the article. I rarely find good articles about Cisco. Undoubtedly, Cisco is a great company that helped the Internet to come to that stage. They are working on taking this internet to next level. They deserve the credit. Stop being sarcastic and throwing dirt at this company all the time..

desade 12/4/2012 | 8:51:29 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move
Did this story have more of an anti-Cisco title and slant earlier in the day? Or was I just seeing things?
props 12/4/2012 | 8:51:29 PM
re: Cisco Makes Metro Move No MPLS, no tracking of nascent RPR specs in their DPT, but no one will care, likely, unless the press continues to highlight these deficiencies. Good job LR.
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