Running fiber through an enterprise data center is one thing, but doing it in a 20-story carrier hotel that houses the equipment of hundreds of service providers is another. Peering point provider Telx saw half of its customers do exactly that for their Carrier Ethernet services, taking days to manually snake cables throughout skyscrapers. Telx engineers recognized an opportunity to launch new telecom services at a time when service providers are struggling to redefine their "dumb pipe" heritage.
The carrier collocation provider is incrementally upgrading seven of its sites over the next year and launch a new telecom service, Ethernet Exchange. The goal is to enable its customers to remotely configure carrier Ethernet interconnections, according to Brad Hokamp, chief marketing officer at New York City-based Telx. The company is building these new services with Cisco Systems' new core routing platform, the Aggregated Services Router (ASR) 9000, its Active Network Abstraction network management software.
"Instead of physical cross connections, [carrier customers] wanted to move to a more virtual environment … so it can be a much faster time to market, offer greater efficiency and be cost effective," Hokamp said. "[But] we didn't have a switch infrastructure to build and support Ethernet Exchange at a virtual level."
The ASRs won't replace any existing infrastructure; they are the foundation for the new network Telx is building to support Ethernet Exchange and other new telecom services, according to Greg G. Smith, a marketing manager within Cisco's service provider unit. Although the ASR 9000 supports both Layer 2 and Layer 3 functionality, Telx is only using its ASRs for switching, Smith said.
The ASR 9000 series offers up to 400 Gbps per line-card slot, enabling aggregate speeds up to 6.4 Tbps. Its operating system, IOS XR, uses a microkernel architecture that allows engineers to conduct upgrades or module changes without disrupting service.
For carriers, wrestling with wires in the carrier hotels was more palatable than trenching miles of fiber to remote locations, he said. But many service providers are scrambling to build and monetize new telecom services, and spending days wiring up manual Carrier Ethernet interconnections to other carriers wasn't very efficient.