CRS-3 promises core intelligence for cloud services

John C. Tanner
Telecom Asia

Cisco promised to it would "change the internet forever" in March with its latest product announcement. After weeks of pre-release speculation and hype, CEO John Chambers unveiled the CRS-3 router, the successor to the company's CRS-1, declaring it "the foundation of the next-generation internet".

By media-event standards, the CRS-3 announcement was a flop. "Is that it?" said Jim Duffy on NetworkWorld's Cisco SubNet blog, summing up a number of tech media reactions. More embarrassingly, it also made TheStreet.com's weekly "Five Dumbest Things On Wall Street" column.

Strip away the marketing hyperbole, however, and the CRS-3 is at the very least the new fastest core router on the block, with a trial customer (AT&T) and an aggregate capacity of 322 Tbps - which makes it faster than ZTE's 200-terabit T8000 router, and 12 times faster than Juniper Networks' T1600 (provided carriers aggregate 72 CRS-3 chassis). The CRS-3 also promises reduced opex through improved power savings per gigabit. And CRS-1 customers can upgrade to CRS-3 by swapping switch fabric boards.

The real attraction for operators, though, may be CRS-3's expanded network intelligence features: Cloud VPN, which creates tunnels for enterprises to extend their MPLS network into carrier cloud resources, and Network Positioning System (NPS), which allows the router to connect service requests for data center resources to the closest geographical data center that can fulfill that request - something carriers currently either have to manage manually or automate in a non-intelligent manner.

"We're basically collapsing the layers between the apps layer and the IP layer and driving much more application awareness into the network itself so you can differentiate based on application types," explains Jeff White, vice-president for Cisco's service provider business unit in APAC.

That means, for example, the CRS-3 is "content-aware" enough to "make intelligent decisions on steering users to content based on the distance or number of hops, and also helps service providers make smarter decisions on where to store content in the network and keep more traffic off the core", White adds.

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