Cisco Expands Carrier Ethernet

Cisco Systems today announced additions to its Carrier Ethernet product line to include a new Ethernet access switch and additional access and aggregation hardware and software.

The new products plus recent Metro Ethernet Forum certification of 10 Cisco Carrier Ethernet products further strengthens the company’s ability to enable service providers to offer end-to-end Ethernet, with full IP MPLS, said Mark Milinkovich, director of Cisco’s Core & Edge Routing Product Technoloy marketing.

“The big driver here is convergence at the network layer, at the services layer and at the applications layer,” he said. “Carriers are converging multiple networks but they are also converging consumer and business traffic. The way consumer traffic is delivered is changing from ATM to Ethernet, so the Ethernet infrastructure becomes more relevant. We are delivering not just a full portfolio of products but also a reference architecture for Ethernet.”

Cisco has not only the broadest range of products, including CPE, but also many different options for those products which help cement its position as the market leader, said Michael Howard, principal analyst with Infonetics.

“Within each product family, they have so many options and chassis, which is what makes them so versatile,” he said. “They have the broadest range of products for carriers. A lot of carriers are looking to move to an IP Ethernet Layer and then an optical layer, deleting the SONET layer. At the services layer, ATM also gets deleted.”

The new products include the Cisco ME 3400 Series Ethernet Access Switches which were purpose-built for the carrier market and optimised for both residential triple play services and business VPNs. The switches offer feature sets which can be added on a modular basis as needed and not paid for in advance of deployment. Cisco also introduced new hardware modules for the Cisco ONS 15454 including a 100Base Fiber Module to extend Ethernet reach and offer advanced Quality of Service and 50 millisecond recovery, and a 10/100 Mbps Module to deliver private line Ethernet along with virtual concatenation, Generic Framing Procedure (GFP) and Link Capacity Adjustment Scheme (LCAS) capability.

In addition, Cisco announced additional capabilities for its Catalyst 6500 Series and 7600 Series routers to deliver MPLS over Ethernet closer to the edge of the carrier network cost effectively, along with other hardware and software advances.

The improvements to the ONE 15454 “allow service providers to maintain their current investment” and get new capabilities such as VCGFP that take a low overhead approach to building customer services. The new ME 3400 platform “pushes access closer to the customers and drives customer located equipment” such as fiber to the premises, Milinkovich said.

The overall goal is to “have a common architecture built on Ethernet at Layer 2 and MPLS at Layer 3 that lets service providers deliver a range of services,” said Brendan Gibbs. “What sets us apart is the breadth of the portfolio and the breadth of the technology options. It’s not a one size fits all approach – we recognize that most networks will be hybrids for some time to come and we are offering different options for different technologies.”

Cisco also is introducing a family of multi-rate modular 10-Gigabit SPA Interface processors for its Cisco XR 12000 series routers that, along with the 10 Gigabit Ethernet uplinks for its Catalyst 4500 Series and 7600 Series enables high-density fiber aggregation and delivery of fast Ethernet to business customers.