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Routing

Cisco Catches Integration Fever

Repeating the mantra of "more stuff in routers," Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is packing more features into the 7600 router (giving it more of a broadband-services flavor) and into its integrated services routers (ISRs) for the enterprise.

Specifically, Cisco is adding a session border controller and B-RAS to the 7600, giving that box more ties to VOIP services and subscriber management, respectively. The ISRs, meanwhile, are getting the long expected addition of WAN optimization. (See Cisco Upgrades 7600.)

The additions are part of a storm of Cisco announcements coinciding with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecom World 2006 show that launched today in Hong Kong. Cisco is also describing the new Content Delivery System, which is an all-Cisco architecture for delivering video on demand or time-shifted video, and its Video Quality Experience (VQE) technology for ensuring fast channel-changing times in IPTV. (See Cisco Offers VOD System and Cisco Tackles Video Quality.)

Along similar lines, Light Reading has reported that Cisco is crafting its own IPTV infrastructure, with Myrio Corp. and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) as likely partners. (See Sources: Cisco Forming IPTV 'Ecosystem'.)

As far as carrier gear goes, it's the 7600 that's getting Cisco's spotlight. But others in the industry aren't exactly impressed.

Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) and Redback Networks Inc. , the vendors apparently most affected by today's announcements, declined official comment. But, privately, they rant that Cisco's product is a 10-year-old enterprise box that never caught on with the world's largest phone companies.

Cisco counters in rare form. "The Cisco 7600 series router is a modular platform that bears no resemblance to a router we introduced six years ago," says Suraj Shetty, a Cisco director of marketing.

As for the sales of the box, Shetty points to Cisco internal numbers showing 40 percent growth in 7600 revenues from the previous year, part of Cisco's market-leading numbers in carrier Ethernet.

But all those 7600 linecards have made the box "a Rube Goldberg example of complexity unplugged," one competitor contends, while calling today's release the "fourth re-launch" of the box. And indeed, to power its new features, Cisco is putting out the fourth iteration of processors for the 7600.

So there.

Having said all that, what's in the box?

B-RAS fracas
On the B-RAS side, the 7600 is getting the Intelligent Services Gateway (ISG), which was introduced for Cisco's 10000 and 7200 routers in June. (See Cisco Intros ISG.)

The 10000 had been Cisco's primary vehicle for subscriber management in carrier networks, but its focus is on multiservice situations, whereas the 7600 has a more Ethernet-centric world view. Given the importance of Ethernet to many IPTV deployments, it's hardly shocking to see Cisco make this move. "What we are enabling now is an Ethernet B-RAS for aggregating data," Shetty says.

"When they did this ISG announcement in the middle of the year, I said at the time that the stuff should be on the 7600," says Mark Seery, an analyst with Ovum RHK Inc. "Clearly the 10000 is out of horsepower. When you look at Redback and Juniper bringing to market much bigger B-RASs than the 10000, they had to do something," he says, referring to Redback's SmartEdge and the upgraded Juniper E320. (See Juniper Gives Static to IPTV Critics.)

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Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:33:19 AM
re: Cisco Catches Integration Fever Hi Mark -- Thanks for the clarification (I'll go in and tweak the quote), and for starting up the discussion... the location & role & flavor of the SBC is a good topic for debate.
Mark Seery 12/5/2012 | 3:33:19 AM
re: Cisco Catches Integration Fever Hi Craig,

>>"Clearly the 10000 is out of horsepower. When you look at Redback and Juniper bringing to market much bigger B-RASs than the 7600, they had to do something," <<

If I said that Redback and Juniper had much bigger BRASs than the 7600, I mispoke, I should have said 10000.

I would like also to put in to the thread the rest of the SBC quote because I think there are some important issues that readers might be interested in:

"From an architectural perspective I do believe that in order to get the most benefit from transporting voice over IP, operators should optimize the voice routing from the edges of the network. This argues in favor of SBCs being deployed at the edge regardless of whether they are stand alone appliances or integrated in to an edge router. However there are a number of other considerations including who owns the budget for the voice architecture, whether distributing SBCs to all edge points creates too many links to billing systems, whether it is more cost effective to start with a centralized solution and scale to edge points over time, whether integrated solutions are best of breed, and whether integrated solutions have sufficient scalability. Some of these issues vary by size of operator. In addition the term "SBC" means many things in the market place, and those many things have different architectural considerations."
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