New Cisco router could pave way for new IP services

Cisco Systems Inc. Wednesday unveiled a new router that will allow service providers to provision services at the edge of metropolitan optical networks and upgrade older Cisco routers.

For enterprises, the new 7600 Optical Services Router (OSR) could open up a variety of new high-speed IP services that can be provisioned flexibly and dynamically over optical fiber. Optics enables services to be delivered faster and in a wider variety of options than does electronics, experts say.

The 7600 OSR is based in large part on Cisco's Catalyst 6500 LAN switch. It uses the Catalyst 6500's 256G bps switching fabric and nine-slot NEBS-compliant chassis to support a raft of new service modules designed for service provider point-of-presence that consolidate metro optical transport with IP-enabled services.

The modules include Optical Carrier (OC) packet-over-SONET and ATM, Gigabit Ethernet WAN, 10/100M bps Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet LAN, and serial WAN port adapters from Cisco's venerable 7500 router, which is slowly heading for retirement.

The following modules all include four ports of Gigabit Ethernet:

Eight-port OC-3c POS.

16-port OC-3c POS.

Two-port OC-12c ATM.

Two-port OC-12c POS.

Four-port OC-12c POS.

Single-port OC-48c POS.

The Gigabit Ethernet WAN module sports four ports, and the Gigabit Ethernet LAN module supports 16. The 10/100 module features 48 ports.

WAN port adapter modules from the 7500 that are forward compatible with the 7600 include: four- and eight-port T-1; one- and two-port High Speed Serial Interface; one and two-port T-3/E-3; one-port T-3 or E-3 ATM; four port channelized T-1 or E-1; one- and two-port channelized T-3 or E-3; one-port OC-3 ATM; and one-port OC-3 POS.

Cisco also plans to add 10G bps Ethernet and OC-192c POS interfaces to the OSR, sources say.

The 7600 OSR features Cisco's Parallel Express Forwarding (PXF) reprogrammable ASICs processors for forwarding performance of millions of packets per second. PXF is designed to enable deployment of new Cisco IOS services for Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS), quality-of-service, security, policing, traffic shaping and filtering.

With PXF, the OSR can filter 30 million packet/sec and perform access control list filtering, traffic policing and shaping at line-rate, Cisco says. The 7600 is the third Cisco product to support PXF processors. The other two are the 7200 router and the 10000 Edge Services Router, which is targeted at high-density leased line T-1/T-3 aggregation.

Service providers say the OSR will provide a speedy service-enabling entry point into their backbones.

"The main reason we are looking at the OSR is because the OSR can serve as a high-speed ingress point to the MPLS backbone that we are about to deploy," says one service provider customer. "The OSR interfaces have deeper interface buffers than the plain [Catalyst] 6509. The OSR will serve as high-density aggregation for DS-3 to OC-192."

Cisco is not yet supporting MPLS on the 7600, however - a shortcoming noted by analysts.

"The lack of MPLS support in the 7600 was surprising, particularly given Cisco's key role in leading that charge," market tracker Current Analysis stated in a recent report. "Cisco has let a Tier 3 competitor - i.e., Riverstone - beat the company on the MPLS it has worked so diligently on. Riverstone should exploit Cisco's failure to support MPLS on this platform and use that as a point of differentiation."

The basic 7600 OSR system is list priced at US$73,000. The entry-level system, with interfaces, starts at $100,000. The interfaces cost between $27,000 to $180,000. The 7600 OSR is available now.

Cisco says it is offering "attractive" incentives for 7500 users to upgrade to the 7600. With today's introduction of the 7600, and the recent introductions of the 10000 ESR and FlexWAN module for the Catalyst 6500, the 7500 is being squeezed out of enterprise and service provider edge applications.

Cisco says it has no immediate plans to retire the 7500, which enjoys a huge installed base.

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