Cisco Catches Integration Fever

But wait -- doesn't this all sound a little familiar? Cisco already announced something like subscriber management on the 7600: the multiprocessor WAN application module (MWAM), launched back in 2003. (See Cisco Pads B-RAS Offering.)

Reached by email on this point, Shetty stood by his claim that the ISG capabilities on the 7600 are a new development, the first instance of B-RAS on the router. As he's in Hong Kong attending the ITU Telecom show, he was not immediately available to elaborate.

Sources think the distinction between today's offering and 2003 is that the MWAN lacked the PPP support required for older services. If that's the case, a new iteration of B-RAS makes sense, Seery says. "This issue was always out there, but I think it just got an exclamation mark on it from the recent Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) RFP, where some people got kicked out for not having PPP," he says.

Seery also believes Cisco will use the ISG-enabled 7600 to counter Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), which "does not do PPP-based subscriber management on the 7750 SR or 7450 ESS."

Cisco might also take some digs for reaching only half of the 128,000 subscriber sessions Juniper can, but Shetty shrugs that off. "By getting 64,000 sessions, we've pretty much covered every deployment that's out there," he says. (See Juniper Packs Ethernet.)

Shetty adds that it's important to consider all the things the 7600 can do nowadays, including deep packet inspection, the B-RAS module, the SBC module, and the upcoming VQE addition. "You have to look at the combination of what we have now." (And yes, he claims, you can fit all those things onto the larger 7600 chassis.)

SBC shilling
The session border controller added to the 7600 is the same home-grown one Cisco put on the XR 12000 router earlier this year. (See Cisco Integrates Session Control.)

It's not a particularly surprising move, nor does it signal the beginning of the end for independent SBC vendors, Seery says. Rather, he thinks the bigger question is where the SBC ought to be deployed.

"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 standalone appliances or integrated in to an edge router," Seery says. But, he adds, real-world networks come with other questions, such as whether that proliferation of edge SBCs will cause problems for billing systems.

Juniper already took this step, discontinuing the standalone products acquired with Kagoor in order to merge them onto routers. (See Juniper Kills Its Session Controllers.)

There's even more to come on the 7600, as the VQE, initially a separate appliance, is slated to be integrated "in the subsequent months," Shetty says, declining to add specifics.

In fact, recent rumors say Cisco is going even further by building the successor to the 7600; Shetty wouldn't comment on any of that. (See Cisco Lines Up 7600 Successor.)

The WAAS way
Separately from all that 7600 talk, Cisco is adding its wide area application services (WAAS) -- technology acquired with Fineground -- to its ISR line in a module that's shipping now.

As with the SBC integration, WAN optimization seemed a good fit to go with routers, although Cisco didn't make it a priority. In a similar vein, Juniper has said its WAN optimization technology, acquired with Peribit and Redline, would find its way onto the J-series routers, but the company hasn't taken that step yet. (See Cisco Joins WAN/WAFS in Name Only, Cisco Backs Into Optimization, and Juniper Takes Two: Peribit & Redline.)

Cisco thinks the time for integration has arrived, as enterprises are beginning to merge file servers, storage servers, and the like into the data center. That means the servers are being accessed over the WAN, opening up the need for performance enhancements like WAAS.

"Integrating it into the router just simplifies the way they implement it," says Inbar Lasser-Raab, a Cisco director of product marketing.

— Craig Maatsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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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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