Cisco unveils routers, takes swipe at Juniper

Cisco this week unveiled three service provider edge routers, along with an aggressive marketing campaign against rival Juniper. 

Cisco added three platforms to its ASR 9000 line of edge routers, all designed to better support mobile Internet services and devices such as tablets, smartphones and connected appliances. The new routers support Cisco’s nV network virtualization technology, which is intended to scale the service provider edge, aggregation and access networks into a 96Tbps system optimized for IPv6. 

These new routers bring the nV technology to the access layer, where service providers can further virtualize their infrastructure for resource consolidation, and operational and cost efficiencies, Cisco says. Cisco nV is a software upgrade to the ASR 9000 line that the company says can lower operating costs by up to 74% when compared with competing edge platforms, due to its ability to support low power usage, zero-touch configurations, single-click upgrades and single touch-point management.

The routers will go up against Juniper’s MX 3D line and Alcatel-Lucent’s 7210, 7450, 7705 and 7710 Ethernet services switches and routers. Against Juniper, Cisco also launched an aggressive marketing campaign designed to call attention to what Cisco alleges are broken promises and missed product shipment deadlines. 

Calling out a competitor by name in an advertising or marketing campaign is a departure for Cisco, but recent challenges in its core switching and routing businesses have prompted a new strategy. At Interop in May, Cisco also called out HP specifically when introducing an upgrade to its Catalyst 6500 switch line. 

Juniper declined to comment on the Cisco campaign with this stinging retort from its PR department: “We’re not going to comment on a competitor’s publicity stunt. Customers tell us they want an alternative to the legacy approach, and we’re focused on delivering innovation for them. It appears as if Cisco has once again lost focus.”

Speeds and feeds

The three new routers include: the ASR 901 cell site router, for 2G, 3G and 4G mobile cell sites; the ASR 903 unified Ethernet access router, an Ethernet access device for business, residential and mobile applications; and the ASR 9001, a smaller version of the Cisco ASR 9000 series edge router for smaller deployments. 

The 901 is an environmentally hardened 1RU router with four 100/1000 RJ-45, four Gigabit Ethernet SFP, and four Gigabit Ethernet “combo” ports — a mixture of RJ-45 and SFP. It also features 16 T-1/E-1 WAN connections.

The 901 is able to withstand temperatures as low as 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, and altitudes of 13,000 feet at temperatures of 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It supports Ethernet virtual connections for IEEE 802.1Q VLAN tagging, 802.1ad or “QinQ,” Resilient Ethernet Protocol, 802.3ad Link Aggregation Bundles, Layer 2 Protocol Tunneling (L2PT), and Ethernet over MPLS (EoMPLS), among other features.

The 903 is a 3RU device with six interface module slots and two route/switch processors slots. Two RSPs are available for the router: one supports 2GB of memory and the other 4GB.

Interface modules include a one-port 10G Ethernet XFP card, eight-port 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet SFP, four-port OC-3/STM-1 or one-port OC-12/STM-4, and 16-port T-1/E-1. The router also supports three different Cisco IOS software licenses: The Metro Services license offers advanced QoS, Carrier Ethernet Layer 2 features, synchronous Ethernet and Ethernet OAM capability; the Metro IP Services license offers all capabilities of the Metro Services license with the addition of Bidirectional Forwarding Detection, Layer 3 routing protocols, multi-VPN routing and Layer 3 Multicast and Forwarding Customer Edge capabilities; and the Metro Aggregation Services license includes all of the above, plus MPLS and Circuit Emulation.

The 903 also include four additional optional licenses — two for enabling ATM and IEEE 1588-2008 Boundary Clock or Master Clock capabilities; and two to enable ports on the multi-rate OC-3 and OC-12 interface module.

The 9001 supports 120Gbps of throughput in a 2RU form factor. It has an integrated RSP and two modular bays that support 20-port Gigabit Ethernet, two- and four-port 10G Ethernet and future 40G Ethernet port adapters. The base chassis also has four integrated 10G Ethernet SFP+ ports.

The integrated RSP has 8GB of RAM and is capable of holding several million routes, Cisco says.

Cisco says the routers will help service providers address the growth in network-connected devices and traffic. Citing its own internal research, Cisco says there will be nearly 15 billion network connections, twice the world’s population, by 2015.

Cisco says more than 500 service providers worldwide have deployed the ASR 9000.

Pricing and availability of the ASR 901, 903 and 9001 were not disclosed.

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