Cisco is also in the midst of a major routing refresh -- one that its top routing executive says will bring even more services and other capabilities onto its Integrated Services Routers (ISR).
It's been around since 2006, but the ISR's second generation launched in late 2009 alongside the kickoff of the Borderless Networks initiative. Praveen Akkiraju, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Services Routing Technology Group, said the expansion of Cisco's routing expertise is a big part of that strategy, and that future ISR upgrades would be made with cloud computing in mind.
Much like the Layer 2-Layer 3 Ethernet switching market, Cisco outright dominates the enterprise routing market, holding what according to Dell'Oro Group is about an 84 percent share of the access router share and 52 percent of the high-end router share.
Following a recent restructuring in Cisco's engineering ranks, the current enterprise routing group includes Cisco's ISR team, its WAN optimization team (Cisco Wide Area Application Services, or WAAS) and its Aggregation Services Router (ASR) team. Future versions of Cisco's routing technology will include elements from each of those teams.
"The notion was that customers think about this as an entity," Akkiraju explained in a recent interview with CRN. "Optimization pieces all play together. We expect customers to continue to buy WAAS appliances, but what we're also seeing is that WAN optimization has to be considered in the context of the overall architecture. We're trying to define an HOV lane for certain amounts of [network] traffic, not multiple HOV lanes independent of each other."
The routing blitz by Cisco is actually a defensive move, as well. Cisco announced end of sale for the first-generation ISR in November, meaning that a huge routing installed base will need to be steadily migrated. That presents an opportunity for Cisco channel partners, Akkiraju acknowledged, and also a threat, based on router competitors who will try to sway customers to change their routing options instead of upgrade to more Cisco.
"This is a unique opportunity for partners to upgrade the installed base," Akkiraju said. "So we're focused on helping them understand how they can use trends like cloud and mobility, and how we've prepared the routers, to drive a big upgrade cycle. Over the course of the year, you're going to see us announce many more cloud-based solutions, especially connecting the assets we have to the cloud in a way that is meaningful for customers."
Cisco's Lada added that Cisco is now running workshops and doing other outreach with partners to educate customers on continuing to invest with Cisco's routing strategy. Cisco partners will see added incentives for routing upgrades, particularly around services, in Cisco's various partner incentive programs, he said.
"We have to focus on the business outcome for customers," Akkirahu explained. "If all we're doing is saying, you had a G1, now here's a G2, we're going to fail because that's not a very compelling argument."