Cisco Systems has announced an eight-slot single-shelf version of its CRS-1 Carrier Routing System, which is designed to let service providers offer services like edge, core and peering for next-generation services, such as video conferencing.

CRS-1 was initially unveiled last May. The eight-slot single shelf version offers 640 Gbps, half the capacity of the CRS-1, which can ultimately scale to 92 Terabits per second.

It has all the features of CRS-1, but Cisco can sell this to customers who do not need the capacity available in the full-rack system, said Mike Volpi, Cisco’s senior vice-president and manager of the routing technology group. The CRS-1 “has transformed” the impression service providers have of Cisco, Volpi said Tuesday at the manufacturer’s worldwide analyst conference.

Although the CRS-1 can scale to 92 Tbps, company officials do not expect any carriers would need the full capacity in the near-term. Suraj Shetty, director of Cisco’s routing technology group, compared the product to a Lego set.

“You can easily add more capacity and add in service,” he said. It allows you to grow as the traffic grows.”

Current customers include Japan’s National Institute of Informatics and Telecom Italia. The CRS-1 is one example of Cisco’s effort to help carriers earn profits from next-generation services, Volpi said, adding today, carriers tend to make most of their money from traditional voice services. But carrier core networks will soon be based on Internet Protocol, and the service providers need to be able to control the traffic so they can offer specific services to specific customers — and bill them for it. Currently, IP networks are like the “wild west,” Volpi said, offering limited opportunity to bill for sophisticated service level guarantees.

For example, he said, carriers can offer broadband customers 1.5 Megabits per second of service, but this doesn’t guarantee a specific user experience.

“If you’re trying to make a phone call over IP and you’re watching video over IP, what happens if you don’t have enough bandwidth?”

Cisco’s vision is for a “service exchange,” which lets carriers and customers have more control over applications.

For example, it can let users log in to the system regardless of the device they’re using, and can control which applications and how much bandwidth a subscriber could have.

Cisco seems to be placing more emphasis on the carrier market, said Alan Freedman, research manager for infrastructure hardware at IDC Canada Ltd.

Freedman, who attended both this and last year’s worldwide analyst conferences, said Cisco is in a “heated battle” with Juniper Networks for the high-end routing market.

But the company is collaborating with some vendors in high-end routing. This week Cisco and Fujitsu announced they will jointly develop high-end switching and routing technology.

They will co-brand routers running Cisco’s IOS-XR for Japanese carriers. They expect the first products will be released next spring.

Cisco’s worldwide analyst conference, which wrapped up Wednesday, included tours of the Santa Clara-based laboratory and a display of some of the latest products, including the Integrated Service Routers, the MDS 9000 storage device and the MeetingPlace 5.3 video conferencing system.

Cisco executives were on hand Wednesday to discuss the company’s strategies, technologies and channel partners.

Paul Mountford, Cisco’s senior vice-president for worldwide channels, said the channel partners with higher margins tend to be those who offer complete solutions, rather than those that simply try to fulfill hardware orders.

He added services providers are also important in selling Layer 3 IP services. Chris Dedicoat, senior vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Cisco, said it’s difficult for integrators to qualify to sell Cisco IP telephony equipment.

“”It’s not an easy qualification to get,”” he said. “”The bar is very high. You’re trying to guarantee the integrity”” of the network.

Jerry Murphy, senior vice-president of the Meta Group Inc., a Stamford, Conn.-based research firm, said enterprise need to buy from channel partners who offer infrastructure solutions, rather than just simple integration.

“”The nature of who they have as partners probably needs to evolve and change,”” said Murphy.


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