A new addition to the family, the 9000v, is an innocuous-looking pizza box for Ethernet aggregation. The trick is that 1,920 of them can be managed as if it were a single device; Cisco's name for this capability is network virtualization, or nV.
These can be connected via the ASR 9010 or 9006, but to add even more edge capacity, Cisco is announcing the ASR 9922, a 96Tbit/s edge system due to ship in the first half of 2012. (The 9000vs are available now.)
And because tomorrow is World IPv6 Day, Cisco is making a point of having IPv6 support on the 9000v and 9922. It would be too easy to make fun of them otherwise.
Cisco is also adding two new cards to the ASR 9000 family -- one with two ports of 100Gbit/s Ethernet, another with 24 ports of 10Gbit/s Ethernet.
Why this matters
The ASR 9000 line was introduced in 2008, so it's due for a capacity increase. "People have been waiting to see something innovative with the ASR to gain market share," says Ray Mota, an analyst with ACG Research .
Alcatel-Lucent, in particular, made big gains during 2010, growing to 25.9 percent market share in edge routing and switching in the fourth quarter, compared with 17 percent in the first quarter of 2010, according to ACG. Cisco's share shrank to 44.3 percent in the fourth quarter compared with 54.2 percent in the first quarter. (ACG's numbers show Cisco and Juniper both beat back AlcaLu a little bit in the first quarter of 2011.)
But there's also a virtualization angle. Lots is being said about making the data center look like one big switch. The 9000v appears to address a usage pattern that's more spread out, with aggregation nodes added arbitrarily around the network. In Cisco's video presentation Tuesday, Surya Panditi, senior vice president of the core technology group, likened the 9000v to a bank ATM; they can be scattered around town as a quick means of expansion.
Among the benefits: the ability to manage aggregation routers more easily. "You can manage all these devices within one system -- to me, that was the part that stood out," Mota says.
Here's evidence: On Cisco's webcast Tuesday, Jay Rolls, senior vice president of technology for Cox Communications Inc. , mentioned that his network has ASRs in 18 cities. "To the degree that this helps enable one-touch management, that's pretty exciting," he said.
Cisco describes the new ASRs and nV technology as an edge-network follow-up to the core-network upgrade brought by the CRS-3.
- AlcaLu Trash-Talks Cisco on 100G
- What's So Big About CRS-3?
- Cisco Boosts the Core With CRS-3
- Cisco Pushes 160-Gig at Edge
- Chipping Away at Cisco's ASR 9000
- Cisco Pumps Up the Edge
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading