Packet core

Cisco Bulks Up Its Mobile Core

Verizon Wireless and Indian operator Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL) are the first carriers to use Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)'s new core network box, which the vendor says is designed to take mobile into the next decade.

Cisco unveiled its new ASR 5500 hardware and software Tuesday. The unit is designed to sit at the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) and support the explosive growth in mobile sessions that is happening now and only expected to increase over the coming years.

"It's a platform that is really the control point for the mobile network," Kelly Ahuja senior vice president and general manager of the Mobile Internet Technology Group at Cisco.

The box is part of the ASR 5000 series, sharing StarOS software with that mobile multimedia core router, according to Murali Nemani, director of service provider mobility at Cisco.

"The software was seen as the jewel," says Nemani. "Operators were saying to us, 'I need a platform that can take me into the next decade.'"

The ASR 5500 is already in commercial use, the Cisco executives say. Leading U.S. Long Term Evolution (LTE) provider Verizon has deployed the box, as well as India's Bharti Airtel and a third unnamed operator.

Why this matters
Cisco claims the ASR 5500 will help carriers stay several steps ahead of the coming mobile data surge from smartphones and tablets. Using its Networking Index (VNI) mobile data traffic forecast as a yardstick, Cisco predicts that global mobile data traffic will increase 18-fold between 2011 and 2016. (See Cisco: Tablets Hog More Data Than Smart Phones.)

Part of this will increasingly involve supporting machine-to-machine communications as the "Internet of things" grows over the coming decades. "Connected machines will outnumber people by two to one" by 2016, Kelly predicts.

All of this means that the ASR 5500 is designed to deliver a ten-times increase on existing capabilities. It will track and maintain the mobile session, undertake deep-packet inspection, while supporting security and firewall capabilities.

For more
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile
Soupafly 12/5/2012 | 5:31:05 PM
re: Cisco Bulks Up Its Mobile Core

I heard great things about the Starent platforms from Tier1 operators.

The tech for this platform is inherently from that acquisition and thats a good thing because Cisco had nothing close to it - internally.

Interesting (as always) to see the care & dedication applied to selective stats. And I quote from the DS;  "First mobile platform designed for true terabit performance (can support the equivalent of all peak simultaneous mobile traffic in North America for 2010)"

What surprised me most was the embedded DPI functionality. If they can consistenty deliver & scale that feature set/ functionality, it will be impressive. (Doing both across generations of hardware/software & differing network deployment needs is a very complicated faustian bargain. The ability to virtually cluster the platforms, mediates some of that, but not all.)

It will be interesting to see what the rest of the industry responds with. Ericsson's Redback team, Huawei's Core guys & ALU's team have new benchmarks to meet.


joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:31:04 PM
re: Cisco Bulks Up Its Mobile Core

Yeah, Starent and the StarOS might work out to be Cisco's best mobile investment yet. They get to use it for core applications and to help manage small cells etc out at the edge.

mp2010 12/5/2012 | 5:31:03 PM
re: Cisco Bulks Up Its Mobile Core

I bet the Huawei engineers are dying to get their hands on this product so that they can reverse engineer it

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:31:03 PM
re: Cisco Bulks Up Its Mobile Core

This kind of twists the knife re: Juniper not buying Starent, doesn't it?  Juniper hasn't even been mentioning MobileNext lately...

Soupafly 12/5/2012 | 5:31:00 PM
re: Cisco Bulks Up Its Mobile Core

@ Craig; Yes, very interesting. As this forum has stated, Juniper were very late to the party & had very little differentiation. Thats a toxic combination it SP sales.

So far Project Falcon has failed to deliver in profits or MS impact.

@ mp2010; Thats a little harsh. Will Huawei's techs have a look? Absolutely. As will all active Cisco competitors, not just the chinese.

If I were a betting man, I would imagine that core network (GGSN et al) is a highly profitable domain, for the vendors. That's why Cisco spent big (relative to share price not acquisition value) on Starent.

My hottest tip to be very interested in this announcement would be Ericsson.

Starent were beating them up before the acquisition and this is integral business for our swedish friends. Their redback & internal teams need to be stepping up to the mark and delivering a relatively quick reposte - be that roadmap or shipping deliverables.

They also need to learn to streamline the pricing! Ye gods the last time I looked at their pricing I acquired grey hairs deciphering it. (That may have changed since, mind.)


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