Cisco, Sprint Renew Vows

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is reaffirming its relationship with model customer today, announcing a three-year extension to the companies' longstanding partnership.

The extension was announced in April but got buried under the fanfare for the XR 12000, an edge router designed around the IOS XR modular operating system that powers Cisco's CRS-1 core router (see Cisco's CRS-1 Gets Edgy). Cisco is putting the spotlight on Sprint this time by noting that Sprint is the first carrier to receive a new Cisco VPN quality of service (QOS) certification (see Cisco Certifies Sprint).

It all means Sprint is prepared to continue being a Cisco showcase, particularly when it comes to advanced technologies. Sprint is committed to consolidating its older networks into a single Internet Protocol (IP)/Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) core, a concept all equipment vendors including Cisco are pushing, and the renewed alliance means Sprint will continue using Cisco's equipment for the transition (see Incumbents Converge on Convergence).

Sprint frequently gets mentioned as a customer when Cisco trots out new products (see Cisco Ships OC192). Last year, for instance, Sprint was the first customer to announce the purchase of a CRS-1, although it's believed Sprint isn't yet using the router in a production network (see Cisco Unveils the HFR and Sprint Throttles Up Cisco's CRS-1).

"We've had a long history with Cisco, going back to the early 90s," says Randy Ritter, vice president of product management for Sprint.

That's allowed Sprint to help steer some of Cisco's product plans. Regarding that IP/MPLS core, for instance, Sprint was able to add MPLS to routers like the GSR 12000 without having to buy new chassis. "Cisco made changes in IOS to make that possible," Ritter says. (IOS is the company's original Internetwork Operating System.)

Given that the relationship was never in question, the effect of the extension is largely cosmetic. Cisco gets most of the benefit from the announcement, because it's getting the thumbs-up from a major customer, says Ray Mota, chief research officer at Synergy Research Group Inc.

Cisco also can bank on continued testimonials for products like the IOS XR, which is percolating down to the edge of the network through products like the recently announced XR 12000 router (see Cisco's CRS-1 Gets Edgy). "It's important for Cisco to let the world know the new modular operating system is being deployed with a customer like Sprint," Mota says.

Separately, Sprint is receiving Cisco's IP VPN Multiservice QOS Certified status, a certification level similar to the "Cisco Powered Network" designation. It tells enterprises that a carrer meets a certain standard for QOS guarantees, as defined by Cisco and verified by a third party. The idea is to get enterprise and commercial customers to "feel a little bit more confident about what's behind the network cloud," says Jeff Spagnola, Cisco's vice president of service provider marketing.

Sprint wants to be able to give customers that assurance, particularly when it comes to applications such as VOIP. "We feel customers are going to demand real-time performance for their applications," Ritter says.

On a less formal level, Cisco is holding up Sprint as an example of an IP Next-Generation Network (IP NGN). "We're using that account as a reference point" Spagnola says. This means Sprint is rolling out new services for IP and all that, but the most important factor is that only an all-Cisco network counts for IP NGN.

Cisco trotted out the IP NGN concept late last year. Company officials deny it's a counterattack to Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) and its Infranet concept, which describes networks that work together to automatically ensure QOS and security for applications (see Cisco Unveils IP NGN Strategy and Juniper's Infranet Takes Baby Steps).

The Infranet idea got Juniper quite a bit of attention, especially once the company founded the Infranet Initiative Council (IIC) to develop methods for making the Infranet a reality. Cisco refused to join, so at the behest of carriers, IIC members regrouped into the IPsphere Forum, a similar organization but with ties to a yet-unchosen standards body. The change was enough to get Cisco and fellow holdout Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) to join (see Infranet Becomes IPsphere).

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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OldPOTS 12/5/2012 | 3:08:17 AM
re: Cisco, Sprint Renew Vows Great Marketing-

'Sprint is receiving Cisco's IP VPN Multiservice QOS Certified status, a certification level similar to the "Cisco Powered Network" designation. It tells enterprises that a carrer meets a certain standard for QOS guarantees, as defined by Cisco and verified by a third party.'

How great can a QoS standard be if set by CSCO?

blissful 12/5/2012 | 3:08:16 AM
re: Cisco, Sprint Renew Vows Y'know, I'm not sure what to make of your comment. Obviously you don't think that Cisco can specify QoS standards that are any good. Why? Care to elaborate? Care to stand behind your statement? It simply adds little to throw a question into the air and leave it at that. What's your problem with Cisco's QoS standards? Tell?

If you want to jump on Cisco and argue that it is incompetent to define QoS standards than you should also explain why and give us some facts or even just detailed opinion -- that's fair. I may even be convinced... What you're doing here is unfair and non-informative.

No offense but please tell us something more than

Light-bulb 12/5/2012 | 3:08:15 AM
re: Cisco, Sprint Renew Vows You know saying that Cisco Doesn't do QoS is like saying KFC doesn't do Chicken. Don't know how many QoS deployments you've deployed, but I've not had the same experience obviously. There is no doubt that QoS is complex and requires a great deal of planning and thought, but just in terms of a box supporting QoS... If your comments stem from Juniper and their Q-Pic... I think you're overlooking the fact that it's a seperate add-on board to support More QoS features. Where Cisco has it from the get go.
Sorry, if we are just talking religion... I belive Cisco is the definitive answer to QoS being supported properly throughout a network.

materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:08:15 AM
re: Cisco, Sprint Renew Vows Clearly, CSCO's packet-based QoS standards are not those of a dedicated line. However, by now, the general market concept of CSCO Q0S is about set. If it is generally valued, this certification has value. If not, then it won't. The market will tell.

Who is the third party?
canadian 12/5/2012 | 3:08:14 AM
re: Cisco, Sprint Renew Vows I wouldn't go as far as the first person did, but:

1. It's a FACT that Cisco does Class of Service and calls it a Quality of Service.

Cisco killed Qos (remember IntServ) long ago and helped create CoS (DiffServ).

Of course, not too many others do QoS either - there are a couple of vendors out there who can do a per-user Quality of Service.
mr zippy 12/5/2012 | 3:08:11 AM
re: Cisco, Sprint Renew Vows According to this paper, co-published by a member of Sprint Advanced Technology Labs, and measured on the Sprint network, there is no need for QoS, at least on the backbone, as long as there is 15% extra capacity available than the average traffic rate.

"Provisioning IP Backbone Networks to Support Latency Sensitive Traffic"

Abstract To support latency sensitive traffic such as voice, network providers can either use service differentiation to prioritize such traffic or provision their network with enough bandwidth so that all traffic meets the most stringent delay requirements. In the context of widearea Internet backbones, two factors make overprovisioning an attractive approach. First, the high link speeds and large volumes of traffic make service differentiation complex and potentially costly to deploy. Second, given the degree of aggregation and resulting traffic characteristics, the amount of overprovisioning necessary may not be very large. This study develops a methodology to compute the amount of overprovisioning required to support a given delay requirement. We first develop a model for backbone traffic which is needed to compute the end-to-end delay through the network. The model is validated using 331 one-hour traffic measurements collected from the Sprint IP network. We then develop a procedure which uses this model to find the amount of bandwidth needed on each link in the network so that an end-to-end delay requirement is satisfied. Applying this procedure to the Sprint network, we find that satisfying end-to-end delay requirements as low as 3 ms requires only 15% extra bandwidth above the average data rate of the traffic.

Now, I think the interesting question is would be is it cheaper in fundamental dollars terms, taking into account all costs, including time and network admin salaries, to just ensure there is always 15% extra capacity, or deploy somewhat more complicated QoS mechanisms, and then have to watch those QoS mechanisms to ensure they continue to deliver the QoS that is being sold to the customer.
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:08:09 AM
re: Cisco, Sprint Renew Vows Dreamer says: "The most serious QOS problem is always at the edge or access side of the network. It is never at the core. That is where the congestion is and it costs too much to throw enough bandwidth to solve the problem."

What about wireless mesh networks, where bandwidth is supposed to grow with the number of active nodes? MOT is working on this.
sgan201 12/5/2012 | 3:08:09 AM
re: Cisco, Sprint Renew Vows Hi,

When you asked the wrong question, you will never get the right answer. The most serious QOS problem is always at the edge or access side of the network. It is never at the core. That is where the congestion is and it costs too much to throw enough bandwidth to solve the problem.

zher 12/5/2012 | 3:08:08 AM
re: Cisco, Sprint Renew Vows I agree with Dreamer.

We should not deploy too much of QoS for the Core. Keep the core as fast as possible.
xbar 12/5/2012 | 3:08:06 AM
re: Cisco, Sprint Renew Vows Remember QoS is more important at the edge than in the core. The name of the game at the edge is oversubscription and *there* QoS is critical.

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