As I’ve been in the media industry nearly all my life, I understand spin. And I’m continually fascinated by how the mainstream media often “buys the spin” when they report technology stories. No better example than how they all piled on Cisco’s new router announcement this week, often just quoting the press release as fact.
Here at the Rayno Report we embark in a battle against the spin. in the interest of truth, let’s take you through the Cisco story again and show you who’s right and who’s wrong.
Here’s a prime example of what’s wrong: This terrible piece of journalism in AOL’s DailyFinance: “Cisco Unveils Its New Superfast Network Router.” The headline is hilarious, it could pass as an Onion piece. And the story that follows is pathetic, almost a pure regurgitation of the press release. Do some analysis folks! pick up the phone!
I quote from the story: “Networking giant Cisco (CSCO) on Tuesday unveiled a new network router it says ‘will forever change the Internet and its impact on consumers, businesses and governments.'”
That’s the lead. If you parse it, it’s really just Cisco’s own subjective propaganda, there are no factual statements in the lead. The reporter, Sam Gustin, has made the press release the story. He’s handed control to Cisco.
The new system, called the Cisco CRS-3 Carrier Routing System, will offer network speeds three times faster than its predecessor, the CRS-1 — or 322 terabits per second — and 12 times faster than its nearest rival.
Also totally unconfirmed propaganda. I have drilled down into the details and there is no way this router could be 12 times as fast as the nearest competitor. It’s just Cisco comparing apples to oranges.
If you go to a place where people actually know what they are talking about, instead of trying to learn about core routers from AOL, you’ll find there’s a massive debate brewing on Light Reading about the sleight-of-hand that can be used with traffic speeds and routers.
Let me boil it down for you: Cisco often doubles the bandwidth of a router, because it counts ingress and egress channels at the same time. In the industry this is known as “Cisco math.” In addition, Cisco is exaggerating the capacity because it’s not talking about one router chassis, but a string of them linked together.
As Craig Matsumoto (a router expert) writes on Light Reading: “The CRS-3, as the new router is named, can deliver 322 Tbit/s, Cisco officials said in today’s announcement. That’s probably in a multichassis implementation; the CRS-1 can reach a claimed 92 Tbit/s, but only if 72 of them are linked together.”
A message board participant wrote:
“The CRS-3 has twenty-eight 140 gigabit Ethernet slots per chassis. The individual platform has 3.92 terabits of capacity. The 322 terabits/seconds can only be achieved by connecting 72 chassis together,” writes a contributor to the message board.
So, if Cisco were to compare router speeds fairly, it should say what the capacity of the router is in one chassis. It is not in fact 12 times faster than rivals. It may be, at most, twice as fast as current routers, but that’s because Cisco is comparing its new product to older generation products. Rivals such as Alcatel-Lucent and Juniper plan to have new routers out that will match Cisco’s single-chassis capacity within a year. In addition, Cisco was just playing catch-up by adding 100 Gigabit cards to its core router for the first time. The rival routers already had 100 Gigabit cards.
As Matsumoto sums up: “Other companies can’t match Cisco’s 322-Tbit/s claim, but when it comes to more practical router metrics that would lead to immediate sales, they’re all on a par. Juniper expects to leapfrog Cisco’s 140 Gbit/s per slot by moving to 250 Gbit/s in the first half of 2011, and Alcatel-Lucent has laid out plans to pack ten 100-Gbit/s interfaces in one-third of a rack later this year.”
Now that’s real analysis: Thanks Craig!