Cisco Debuts Cloud Scale Networking Gear

Three new Network Convergence Series (NCS) devices debut

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Dec 8, 2016
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While the cloud computing phenomenon is often thought of as being about servers and virtualized applications, networking also plays a key role. Networking giant Cisco understands both the needs of servers and networks when it comes to cloud computing.

On December 6, Cisco announced updates to its Cloud Scale Networking efforts with new Network Convergence Series (NCS) hardware. The new hardware includes the NCS 5501/5502, which is a small form factor router, the NCS 5516 modular router and the NCS 1001 programmable interconnect.

"NCS is a broad product family including multiple switching/routing and optical platforms," Greg Nehib, Senior Product Manager at Cisco, told Enterprise Networking Planet. "These products are built for the emerging Cloud Scale segment."

The NCS equipment is somewhat different than Cisco's other routing equipment, including the ISR (Integrated Services Router) product family. Nehib explained that among big differences between the NCS and the ISR is the operating system. The Cisco ISR router uses the IOS XE operating system, while the NCS makes use of IOS XR.

"IOS XE is targeted at Enterprise customers and is considered more feature rich," Nehib said. "IOS XR is targeted at Service Providers and includes the cloud scale content."

Nehib added that th e NCS family hardware is built for large service provider and Web/OTT applications. He noted that Cisco's Cloud Scale portfolio is targeted at the largest web scale companies as they expand networks, introduce new data centers and re–invent legacy central offices.

"The trend in this web scale group is not always the largest routing table or the most robust QoS (Quality of Service), but the lowest power per bit and cost per bit with the flexibility to use the latest software enhancements like SDN, streaming telemetry and segment routing," Nehib said. "Scale is also important and this newest product set achieves very high densities of 100G with the architecture for optimum placement of higher rate interfaces as needed."

Cisco is also very active on the server software side of cloud with its OpenStack efforts. Nehib commented that Cisco's Open Stack efforts are reflected in the software contributions that it makes to the Open Stack community. He explained that specific network features like SDN functions and fundamental network infrastructure like IOS XRv 9000 virtual router software have been deployed in a virtual fashion.

"While these features may be deployed on (Cisco) UCS hardware, the key functionality is network software," Nehib said. "When your network is a combination of physical routers and virtual assets, interworking and management between the two solutions is very important."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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