Cisco extends system scalability

Cisco Systems Inc. recently announced its 12000 Terabit System, an architecture designed to help service providers scale up their Internet Protocol (IP) infrastructures.

The 12000 Terabit System offers modular, non-disruptive system scalability to 5 terabits per second, Cisco officials said. The 12000 Terabit System is managed as a single routing node, designed to simplify POP (point-of-presence) architecture and cut costs. Cisco IOS is the software foundation for the architecture, the company said.

The recent announcement was the first of much forthcoming Cisco news, according to Kevin Kennedy, senior vice-president of Cisco’s service provider business. Every 60 days for the next six to 12 months, Cisco will have news across its line of high-end router products, including “new line cards, performance kickers (and) in some cases, new platforms,” Kennedy said.

According to one analyst, by extending the 12000, Cisco is accommodating a real requirement to grow the 12000 from its current 60Gb level. But in extending it out so much further, Cisco is also making a competitive move, said Tom Nolle, analyst at CIMI Corp. in Voorhees, N.J.

“Terabit routers are not required and there’s never going to be substantial market for them,” Nolle said. “The real sweet spot in the market is between about 80- and 180 gigabits.”

There is simply not enough traffic for terabit routers – in 2004 the U.S. traffic is projected to be at 9 terabits – and there are also other, cheaper ways of moving traffic through a network’s optical core without doing traditional optical routing, according to Nolle.

Cisco knows this, which is why it bought two optical transport technology companies in August, Nolle said.

But some network managers unfamiliar with optical networks may insist on having routers capable of expanding to the terabit level, and rather than give competitors a chance to press a terabit need which Cisco could not satisfy, Cisco chose to “grow the product to a larger scale than anyone probably is going to want,” Nolle said.

The chief component of the new architecture, the 12016 GSR router, is available starting at US$65,000.

Cisco, in San Jose, Calif., is at (408) 526-4000.