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Cisco Rolls Out IPv6-Ready Carrier-Class Routers

Cisco has announced three additions to its ASR 9000 Series Aggregation Services Routers System portfolio. As with all of its new releases, the latest service provider offerings are IPv6-ready, but it's the mobile solution that is expected to be the big draw initially. The network giant says the proliferation of mobile Internet services and devices such as tablets and smartphones are fueling demand for bandwidth and quality experiences.

With the last 32-bit address space IPv4 expected to be issued this year, its 128-bit successor, IPv6, is drawing a lot of attention from service providers, says Cisco. It's still early days, with less than one-third of these companies having migration strategies in place and another third starting to prepare. The company says it is really trying to take the IPv6 problems off the table through its strategy of simplifying the design, deployment and management of services through IPv6 next-generation networks.

The latest additions to the 9000 series, which was introduced three months ago and has an installed base of more than 500 service providers, feature Cisco's nV (Network Virtualization) technology, which blends the network edge, aggregation and access layers into a single 96-Tbps system. Of the three new platforms--ASR 901 cell site router, ASR 903 unified Ethernet access router and ASR 9001 small edge router--it's the 901, a high-capacity, low-power router for 2G, 3G and 4G mobile cell sites, that is expected to draw the most interest, says the company. This is primarily because carriers are looking to offload 4G traffic off of their networks. Both the 901 and 903 will ship before the end of the year, while the 9001 will ship early next year.

Cisco says using its nV technology along with its low-power usage, zero-touch configurations, single-click upgrades and single touch-point management can lower operating costs and total cost of ownership. According to ACG Research's ASR 9000 study, the router family "achieves dramatically reduced TCO." Capital expense is reduced because the ASR 9000 System has high port densities and more card slots per chassis, and due to its distributed router functionality and its network virtualization design, it simplifies network operations and reduces operations expense by up to 71%. The savings are attributed to simpler network operations across the lifecycle and up to a 65% reduction in power consumption, which reduces power, cooling and floor space expenses. TCO is reduced by up to 73% over competing solutions that lack nV technology.

Depending upon which market research you use, Cisco is gaining or losing router market share. According to Synergy Research Group's 2Q11 Service Provider and Carrier Ethernet (CE) Switch Market Share report, investment in edge and core IP network increased 9.3% sequentially to $2.96 billion. Cisco was the biggest beneficiary, narrowly edging out Juniper.

A similar report from Infonetics Research said Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei, Juniper and ZTE continue to take market share from Cisco in the IP edge segment (the sum of IP edge routers and carrier Ethernet switches). Cisco's IP edge revenue was up 12% in the second quarter, but its competitors are growing faster.

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