Bullish On 400Gbps Router, But SDN Slighted Again

BullishSoaring network demand has been merrily forecast for years, with Cisco’s most recent predictions finding that global IP traffic, which has increased fourfold over the past five years, will increase threefold over the next five years. It appears that, somewhat reluctantly and with more than a few reservations, the networking giant has thrown its support behind software-defined networking, but with standards and products still in their formative stages, it is pushing bigger and faster pipes like its core line of routers, the Carrier Routing System.

The latest addition to Cisco’s router line, the CRS-X, delivers 10X the capacity of the original CRS-1, which debuted in 2004, and 4X its previous version, the CRS-3, which was launched in 2010. Due out later this year, CRS-X is a 400Gbps per slot system that can be expanded to nearly 1 petabit per second in a multi-chassis deployment. The installed base of more than 10,000 systems at 750-plus customers consists mainly of telecom carriers and service providers. Overall, the company expects the new systems to increase its core router revenue by 25% to $10 billion within the next two years.

Although both Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei were faster to market with 400Gbps products, Cisco holds 54% of the global core router market, and analyst response to the CRS-X has been positive.

The CRS announcement did catch some by surprise, however, as there was speculation that the system was going to be replaced by a next-generation router, the CTR. It reportedly would support 1Tbit/s per slot in the form of a card with ten 100Gbit/s ports. Looks like it will be put on hold, if it ever materialized at all.

If for some reason the CRS wasn’t enough to cheer Cisco up, new survey reports that the company has overtaken IBM for leadership of the cloud infrastructure equipment market, just one quarter after IBM’s share of the market had hit a two-year high. While both IBM and HP suffered because of a disastrous Q1 server market, Cisco had a very strong quarter in public cloud networking infrastructure, helping it to grab more than 15% share of the overall cloud infrastructure equipment market, according to Synergy Research Group. Total revenues for the quarter were $9.7 billion, 12% down sequentially but marginally up on the first quarter of 2012.

The future continues to look bright for Cisco, but the seeming love-hate relationship with SDN can only send mixed signals out to the market, which provides opportunities for its competitors, and does nothing to allay the fear, uncertainty and doubt of its customers. The fact that there was no reference to SDN in the CRS announcement makes it one of the very few networking items I’ve seen in the last year that didn’t. Does Cisco know something the rest don’t or is it still drawing lines in the sand and daring SDN to cross them?

Image credit: Emilio Labrador (flickr) – CC-BY-2.0