Cisco Boosts Software Solutions For 'Cloud-Scale' Networking

Cisco Systems CEO Chuck Robbins Tuesday followed through on the promise he made during last week's earnings call to deliver improvements around software and routing by enhancing the company’s IOS XR software. Cisco also unveiled three new products in its Network Convergence System routing lineup.

In its first-quarter earnings last week, Cisco reported an 8 percent decline in its routing business year over year. On the earnings call, however, Robbins said he expects that business to "bounce back."

"Our new routing platforms, the new platforms that we've introduced, were up in triple digits again from an orders' perspective. … We also have some new introductions that will be coming out in the next week."

[Related: 10 Deals That Show Robbins Is Shaking Up Cisco]

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Those introductions include new software and developer tools for cloud-scale networking that enable service providers and Web companies to deliver cloud applications with greater agility, automation and simplicity, according to Cisco. New IOS XR features include improved programmability and tighter integration with popular IT configuration and management tools.

"All of these enhancements are excellent," said Robert Keblusek, chief technology officer of Downers Grove, Ill.-based Sentinel Technologies, a Cisco Gold partner. "We do need something significantly more scalable and flexible than a traditional premise-based routing solution. As they adapt and add more scalability and more complementary licensing … these things really help our business quite a bit."

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco said the new software was developed alongside "some of the world's leading Web companies" based on their operational best practices. Cisco has yet to identify the companies.

The new capabilities in IOS XR, which is currently deployed across more than 50,000 live network routers, allows service providers to run their networks at half the total cost of ownership over a five-year span compared to the present, said Cisco. IOS XR also now supports DevOps IT and network automation tools such as Chef and Puppet.

According to Cisco's recent Global Cloud Index, data center traffic is expected to triple by the end of 2019 with 83 percent of the total data center traffic to come from the cloud. This will increase demands on service provider networks and cause network operators to seek new approaches to their architectures.

"With this announcement, Cisco is leading the industry toward cloud-scale networking, converging the data center and WAN and delivering new levels of speed, automation and simplicity," said Kelly Ahuja, senior vice president of Cisco's service provider segment, in a release. "We feel this is a real game-changer that will help service providers of all types in their digitization journeys, enabling them to operate their networks in near-real-time while dramatically increasing operational efficiency."

Keblusek said Sentinel Technologies is using the ARS 900 routing platforms that run on the IOS XR software.

"We use a lot of their ASR routers currently. So we're using physical, carrier-class ASRs as well as virtual CSR routers, and while those have been excellent, from a scalability perspective -- and other things even from a licensing perspective -- we look forward to other improvements like this that will help us go to market with our business better," said Sentinel Technologies' Keblusek. "As they bring more and more of these together, it's very helpful."

Meanwhile, to beef up its Network Convergence System portfolio, Cisco added three new routers: the NCS 5000 Series that delivers up to 40 to 80 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports and four 100 Gigabit Ethernet ports; the NCS 5500 Series that provides up to 288 routed 100 Gigabit Ethernet ports for WAN aggregation; and the NCS 1000 Series, supporting 100/200/250-Gbit wavelengths over 3,000 kilometers with existing fiber.