Cisco Elastic Access Advances SDN for Service Providers

Cisco is advancing its Software Defined Networking (SDN) effort for service providers this week with new Elastic Access hardware and software technologies.

The Elastic Access portfolio plugs in as part of the Cisco Evolved Programmable Network initiative announced last February.

As part of the Elastic Access rollout, Cisco is introducing five new and updated hardware platforms. The ASR 902 and 920 are part of the Cisco ASR 900 series aggregation routers. The ME4600 is an augmentation to the existing Cisco ME 3600/3800 platforms providing optical networking access capabilities.

The Cisco ME 1200 is a new Carrier Ethernet access device platform.

A Cisco spokesperson explained to Enterprise Networking Planet that the new Elastic Access devices are not replacing any existing devices in the Cisco service provider portfolio.

As part of the Elastic Access initiative, Cisco is integrating zero-touch network virtualization (nV) provisioning technology. Cisco’s spokesperson noted that nV provides autonomic networking for a virtual out-of-the-band domain between network elements.

The SDN approach delivered by Elastic Access does not leverage overlay technologies. The Cisco spokesperson explained that the solution is based on OpenDaylight (ODL) with open application programming interfaces (APIs).

Cisco is one of the leading backers of the open source OpenDaylight effort. Cisco has multiple hooks into OpenDaylight, including the XNC reference controller, and is also enabling compatibility with its Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) for enterprises.

Going a step further with Elastic Access, Cisco now aims to provide virtualized management-based controllers on the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) server platform.

“We have moved the provisioning/management software from being served out of a local platform (e.g., router) to the cloud,” the Cisco spokesperson said. “This gives service providers greater flexibility, much better scale and optimized use of resources.”

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

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