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Optical/IP Networks

Cisco's CRS-1 Charms C&W

got another boost for the CRS-1 core router with the announcement of as a customer last week, but the win wasn't as big a boost as it could have been.

It was exactly half as big as it could have been, actually, since the CRS-1s being deployed by C&W are the half-size variety, according to a Cisco spokesman in Europe. Cisco introduced the eight-slot CRS-1 in December, seven months after the 16-slot, full-blown version of the router was launched (see C&W Uses Cisco's CRS-1 and Cisco Scores CRS-1 Customers).

C&W says it will use the CRS-1 in the core of its next-generation network, with initial plans to deploy 15 of the boxes. At $450,000 per router -- assuming no fancy discounts -- that would be a $6.75 million investment. C&W is a nice feather in Cisco's cap, but it would have been nice to have the full-scale CRS-1s deployed. One CRS-1 aspect customers aren't exploiting is the router's size, as the boxes can be linked up by the dozens to form one huge virtual router.

Cisco tailored this feature for telecom carriers that want equipment to stay in place for decades -- although, even before the system launched, analysts were expecting a half-sized CRS-1 to show up (see Cisco Unveils the HFR).

At least Cisco got a customer to pinpoint the number of CRS-1s being used. Service providers such as Softbank BB Corp., , and have been announced as CRS-1 customers but haven't specified the size of their deployments. Other big names such as Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) have only announced trials. (See Cisco, Sprint Renew Vows, Swisscom Chooses Cisco's CRS-1, and Cisco Scores CRS-1 Customers.)

All told, the CRS-1 has lined up 22 customers committed to using the box and another 14 in trials, Cisco CEO John Chambers told analysts earlier this month.

Other big-name carriers could be adding to the CRS-1 tally soon. Analyst Steve Kamman of CIBC World Markets thinks Softbank is bringing in more CRS-1s for connections in and out of Tokyo. "We believe Softbank alone is likely to be deploying an additional 20 new routers" during the next few quarters, Kamman wrote in a report last month.

The half-sized core-router strategy is hardly new. Avici Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: AVCI; Frankfurt: BVC7) sells half- and quarter-sized versions of its TSR router, and has the smaller T320 to complement its T640. (See Avici Intros Tiny TSR, Avici's Incredible Shrinking Router, and Juniper Shrinks Its SuperCore Router.)

Both vendors are challenging Cisco on the multichassis front as well. Avici's TSR has always been able to run in multichassis configurations. And Juniper last year unveiled the TX Matrix, which allows the linking of multiple T640 routers.

The T-series has been logging some mileage of its own, with its 1,000th box being deployed at KT last month (see Juniper Unveils the TX and Juniper Reaches Milestone ).

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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