Cisco has done a major revamp of its Internetworking Operating System (IOS) XR, including opening the software to host third-party applications directly on Cisco devices via SDKs and Cisco’s DevNet Developer Program.
“This is new for Cisco and for the industry,” says Sanjeev Mervana, Cisco’s senior director of service provider marketing. “Not too many networking vendors have the tools to build applications from other vendors. It’s coming across both the WAN and data centers.”
Modular, for Speed
IOS XR is found primarily in Cisco’s high-end service-provider routers, including core routers, and Cisco claims it has more than 50,000 IOS XR devices running live in networks.
The updates being launched today have been in the works for about two years, and Cisco has also been working on specific code development in the software with an unnamed large Web provider for about 12 to 15 months.
Normally, it takes six to 12 months to test and qualify a software release in a service provider’s network, Mervana says. Cisco is using a modular packaging approach with this IOS XR release, which the company claims can reduce that qualifying time by 50 percent.
The modular packages also enable tighter integration with the IT management tools Chef and Puppet.
Another enhancement to IOS XR is the ability for service providers to converge their data center and wide area network (WAN) architectures. This will provide visibility across both environments so service providers can see how applications are performing at multiple data centers, Mervana says.
“When we talk about virtualization, we usually do not talk about the underlying infrastructure,” he says. “It also needs to participate. There is certain low-latency information that needs to be acted upon immediately within the network.”
Another aspect of IOS XR is large-scale automation via the standard models YANG and OpenConfig on the network devices. Without the standard data models, it takes from four to eight hours or sometimes a couple of days to bring up a new device, according to Mervana. That time will now be reduced to 15 minutes.
Lastly, the software can access state data more quickly and with telemetry can provide information about a specific interface and act on that data in near real-time.
Cisco is also announcing three new Network Convergence System (NCS) routers for service providers:
- The NCS 5000 Series delivers up to four 100-Gb/s ports for MPLS routing in metro aggregation.
- The NCS 5500 Series provides up to 288 100-Gb/s ports for WAN aggregation.
- The NCS 1000 supports 100-, 200-, and 250-Gb/s wavelengths over distances exceeding 3,000 km with existing fiber.