Cisco integrates optical transport in new Network Convergence System routers

Cisco this week unveiled the Cisco Network Convergence System (NCS) family of platforms to support its vision of an “The Internet of Everything” in which the network supports cloud computing and smart resource provisioning via software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization concepts – and optical transport functions built into network routers to provide IP/optical convergence.

Sep 26th, 2013

Cisco this week unveiled the Cisco Network Convergence System (NCS) family of platforms to support its vision of an “The Internet of Everything” in which the network supports cloud computing and smart resource provisioning via software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization concepts – and optical transport functions built into network routers to provide IP/optical convergence.

Cisco says that tomorrow’s network will need to accommodate what will soon be trillions of programmable device-driven events, with an increasing variety of devices, systems, and applications demanding network resources. Networks therefore must not only scale in capacity, but in the ability to manage policies and program responses.

The NCS family is designed to meet this need via the potential for petabit-scale capacity, carrier-grade convergence through network virtualization, and reduce cost of ownership, including power requirements. Building blocks of the NCS that support such capabilities include the company’s recently announced Cisco nPower X1 integrated network processor, integration with the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) and the “Dynamic Fabric Automation” features of its data center products, and element, system, and architectural virtualization capabilities. This last group of foundational elements is designed to enable service providers to adapt network and compute resources to changing customer and/or network status requirements by combining software-driven features with scalable multichassis hardware configurations that can be managed as a single entity. Thus, if one part of the network is overloaded, the NCS can move control-plane functions onto UCS servers in the data center, Cisco says. The company asserts this capability creates virtually unlimited control plane scale.

The NCS portfolio contains three platforms that can be controlled as if they were a single entity, Cisco claims:

  • The top-end NCS 6000 features a 1-Tbps line card and the ability to transport up to 5 Tbps per slot and 1.2 Pbps per system.
  • The NCS 4000 will support 400 Gbps per slot and 6.4 Tbps per system. They only one of the three announced platforms not yet shipping, the NCS 4000 will be available in the first half of 2014, Cisco says. The company will offer the platform in single, back-to-back, and multi-chassis configurations. It will also support Optical Transport Network (OTN), DWDM, SONET, and Ethernet applications.
  • The NCS 2000 is a pure-play optical transport platform. It supports 100-Gbps DWDM initially and as well as ROADM capabilities over 96 channels.

The systems are the first to be fielded with Cisco’s CPAK optical transceiver, the client-side module the company has developed in-house using the silicon photonics expertise it gained with the acquisition of Lightwire.

Cisco also revealed that KDDI, BSkyB, and Telstra have already deployed elements of the NCS family.

"Today, video, voice, and everything are running over the IP backbone infrastructure, with mobile and fixed lines. The Internet as we know it is at a crossroads, as the impact of not only human-driven but machine-driven events changes network dynamics and imposes entirely new service requirements,” commented Yoshiharu Shimatani, senior vice president and director, KDDI. “Managing bandwidth alone is no longer enough, as Internet transactions communicate at machine speeds. KDDI believes the Cisco NCS is the foundation for a new generation of Internet networks that will allow us to offer our consumer and business customers the newest and most exciting Internet experiences at a very low total cost of ownership."

"More than seven years ago, Telstra partnered with Cisco to deploy the Carrier-Routing System (CRS) platform. Today, we are evolving this core routing platform to the Cisco Network Convergence System to leverage its new levels of scalability, virtualization, and resilience,” added Mike Wright, executive director, networks, at Telstra. “This network evolution will help us to continue to have Australia's largest and most reliable IP and 3G/4G wireless network. A network with the intelligence and adaptability to manage the hyper-growth in video, the continued adoption of smart phones, and the industry shift to cloud-based services."

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