Cisco Lines Up 7600 Successor

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is believed to have started development work on a successor to its workhorse 7600 series routers, according to industry sources.

The move comes as Cisco finds itself under increasing competitive pressure from its main IP rivals in the carrier router and Ethernet aggregation markets: Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR).

Juniper has just announced its first dedicated Ethernet product, the MX series, while Alcatel unveiled the latest versions of its 7450 Ethernet Service Switch and 7710 service router in a flurry of news announcements at the Broadband World Forum Europe event in Paris last week. (See Juniper Antes Up on Ethernet (Finally) and Quigley: IMS Won't Cure All.)

While Cisco is batting away questions about a 7600 successor with the expected "no comment," industry sources say Cisco is reacting to two key pressure points: the emergence of Alcatel as another troublesome rival; and the increasingly tough technical demands being made on metro routers and switches as service providers ramp up real-time data services, especially video.

Alcatel has shaken up the IP edge aggregation market in the past 12 to 18 months. Two years ago, the name Alcatel was hardly ever muttered in the same breath as IP, but following the development of the Timetra platform acquired in May 2003, sales ramped in 2005, and Alcatel has been winning business that previously would have been contested by Cisco and Juniper.

The French vendor even overtook Juniper to claim second spot in IP edge router market share during the third quarter of 2005. (See Alcatel Router Revenues Surge and Alcatel & TiMetra Seal the Deal.)

Rick Thompson, Senior Analyst at Heavy Reading, says news that Cisco is developing a 7600 successor is to be expected, especially as Alcatel has "proven itself as a formidable competitor in the edge routing space. It wouldn't surprise me if Cisco was to lose the odd battle here and there. It's a natural market ebb and flow as a new entrant penetrates the space" that might be worrisome for Cisco, but certainly isn't "dire straits."

He adds: "Not many people would debate that the 7600 is a bit long in the tooth."

Thompson expects that "like any other routing product successor from Cisco, it will push this into existing friendly accounts first to get a foothold, and then grow it from there as the platform matures and the feature set becomes more rich."

Specific details of the new platform haven't come out yet, and the anticipated timeline for a release stretches from 2007 to 2009. One thing is clear, though -- the market is expecting Cisco to develop and deliver a 7600 replacement.

Mark Seery, an analyst with Ovum RHK Inc. , believes the 7600 is falling behind the times in terms of features in the QOS and MPLS areas, and says the box isn't necessarily the best at handling small packets, though he notes it's debatable how important that really is.

He thinks Cisco will have to move on, following up the 7600 with something new that will require fewer tradeoffs among QOS, features, and density. "Apparently, it's going to take two or three years" to bring to market, he says.

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digits 12/5/2012 | 3:37:10 AM
re: Cisco Lines Up 7600 Successor When, preferably (for Cisco and its customers), would Cisco have this new platform ready for commercial deployment? Does the 7600 have a few years' life in it yet? Or are carriers desperate for the next step with the XR operating system?
everythingip 12/5/2012 | 3:37:10 AM
re: Cisco Lines Up 7600 Successor this article offers nothing...assuming I didn't read this, I would assume that Cisco is working on something the next switching platform, ALA is working on features and Juniper is trying to get their box out the door.
prs6str 12/5/2012 | 3:37:09 AM
re: Cisco Lines Up 7600 Successor I agree. There's nothing interesting in having a box in a few years that could replace much of the functionality of a 7600 for Cisco. If that's the case, then it means the 7600 has a solid future because product introduction and transitions take years and Cisco is not going to give up on what's obviously a successful platform with 30,000 installed. They are still selling the 7500, and the 7600 "replaced" that box many years ago!

I would expect a new box that balances the cost/capability of the 15454 ethernet and a 7600 like router with a little of the next gen metro ethernet requirements sprinkled in. That doesn't necessarily mean a 7600 replacement, though.
goundan 12/5/2012 | 3:37:09 AM
re: Cisco Lines Up 7600 Successor The successor is real and is based on something similar to what Cisco paid $89M some 2 years back, sans the shared information storage. Think of something lustrous that grows inside organisms that you shuck at a bar and you have the title of the replacement. However given the internal politics and glacial pace inside big organizations expect it too see the light of the world in 2-3 years. This will also replace the $4B cash cow that sells into the enterprise market.
FiberFan 12/5/2012 | 3:37:08 AM
re: Cisco Lines Up 7600 Successor Cisco has been recycling this base platform for way too long. You can certainly say they got their R&D dollars out of it.
They are losing business to Alcatel and if the Juniper box works, I suspect they will take some too. Cisco is actually starting to try and sell the CRS at the edge. Not sure if that box is well suited for that role.
Should be interesting to watch.
everythingip 12/5/2012 | 3:37:07 AM
re: Cisco Lines Up 7600 Successor Its great to hear about new developments, boxes, etc..however as a customer that spends alot of $$$ on gear, we can't wait around for the next best thing, we choose a vendor that can provide us with the gear and support, also beside the technical capabilities we also look at the product life cycle, the investment is in the modules/line cards when vendors bring out their new boxes we always prefer that we can re-use existing modules..We also feel that vendors end of life/support products way too soon, i'll leave that for another post.
brahmos 12/5/2012 | 3:37:05 AM
re: Cisco Lines Up 7600 Successor http://www.cisco.com/en/US/pro...

the page above suggests the 7600 is being shoehorned into a bband aggregation role yet the actual contents refer to whats available today (ISG) in the form of 7200 and 10K.
the distributed sw arch of the 7600 is likely to be a headache in "porting" bband feature set from centralized systems like 7200 and 10K. perhaps that explains this guerilla marketing link.

add to that cisco's usual necessity to merge 25 branches and port stuff from 3 different trains to get a release going :) I have friends who spend months doing these special portings than contributing anything new/useful.

problem is the 10K doesnt seem capable of scaling
beyond 65k subs and E- does 128k and ALA probably
has a superior soln also....and only 7600 ISG can compete on scale and throughput ....

so I think talk of a 7600 successor is premature if 7600 ISG isnt even available yet. (if they
havent decided to scrap the idea and go ISG with
their next gen midrange box thats ongoing)

dwdm 12/5/2012 | 3:37:04 AM
re: Cisco Lines Up 7600 Successor The fact is, Cisco is protecting my investment in the 7600 by developing better or new capabilities is the key. I've never seen a vendor do a better job in terms of investment protection. I doubt the 7600 will live forever, however from what I know about it, it does have a solid roadmap for the next few years.

On the other hand, I can see them working on new products that help them enter new markets. Makes sense.

chook0 12/5/2012 | 3:37:03 AM
re: Cisco Lines Up 7600 Successor Given that according to what I can see, the 7600 is not slated to ever run IOS-XR, I would say they have been working on it for at least a year, maybe longer. You don't sow the seeds of a product's destruction without having something to rise from its ashes.

Given that it takes about 3 years to bring one of these beasts to market, I would expect the successor to be at least in customer labs in October '08, but probably somewhat earlier.

Corrollary: An announcement of IOS-XR for the 7600 would mean that this box is delayed or at least deemed not to be available in time for the market.

dwdm 12/5/2012 | 3:37:03 AM
re: Cisco Lines Up 7600 Successor Ray,

Maybe you're a little confused with the new 4-slot CRS that recently came out:


I've heard that this new CRS makes the CRS technology more affordable to many. I wouldn't call the 4 slot CRS the 7600 successor though.
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