Cisco Catches Integration Fever
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.
Having said all that, what's in the box?
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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