Cisco's converged network vision has bandwidth for next 20 years

Cisco's Carrier Routing System (CRS-1) is the company's attempt at building a network infrastructure that will allow voice, data...

Cisco's Carrier Routing System (CRS-1) is the company's attempt at building a network infrastructure that will allow voice, data and video traffic to run off a single IP network.

To tie in with its celebration of 20 years in business Cisco unveiled the high-end router last week in San Jose.

CRS-1 represents Cisco's vision of the converged network. It hopes the architecture used in CRS-1 will provide telecoms operators with enough headroom to cope with bandwidth demands for the next 10 to 20 years.

Cisco chief executive John Chambers said, "From an architectural perspective we continue to see the evolution of what we believe will be four generations of network architectures: convergence of data, voice, and video; end-to-end IP networks; network of networks; and an evolution to the intelligent information network."

Cisco said CRS-1 would allow telecoms operators to converge their voice, data, and video applications onto one IP-based network. At the same time, CRS-1's scale and performance would let service providers offer virtually unlimited amounts of bandwidth,

End-users are unlikely to require the 92tbps the high-end router promises to deliver. But the technology aims to address service levels and provide high availability - both areas of concern for users who have outsourced their wide area network infrastructure to an IP virtual private network provider.

The IP VPN has proved a popular way for users to offset telecoms costs by replacing dedicated leased lines between sites with a connection into a carrier's internet backbone. Multi-protocol layer switching is used to ensure quality of service on the network, by preventing internet traffic from interfering with a user's own IP traffic.

But, according to John Doyle, director of product marketing at Cisco, today's IP VPNs have a shortcoming in that there can be some interference. He said, "The CRS-1 allows network operators to completely partition their networks to maintain service levels, unlike today's networks."

Ovum analyst Mark Main said, "The use of logical routers in CRS-1 ought to reduce the impact of oneÊcustomer's traffic on another's, particularly if applied to the entire end-to-end system. Until all the routers in a VPN are so enabled, there remains the possibility of such interaction."

The Cisco Internetwork operating system has been rewritten as a "memory-protected, microkernel-based operating system", a design which Cisco said would support in-service upgrades. The new operating system aims to provide fault containment and automatic fault recovery so that processes can be started, stopped and upgraded without human intervention.

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