Cisco Enhances Network OS for Service Providers

The improvements to IOS NX and the addition of three Internet routers are designed to help service providers create cloud-scale networks.

cloud development

Cisco Systems officials are enhancing the capabilities within the vendor's IOS XR networking operating system to enable service providers and cloud operators to more easily deliver applications to customers and drive down the cost of their networks.

The improvements to the network OS are designed to make networks more programmable and to enable service providers to converge their data center network and WAN architectures. At the same time, IOS NX now offers greater integration with such IT configuration and management tools as Chef and Puppet, open innovation via an IOS XR software development kit (SDK) and Cisco's DevNet Developer Program, and more predictable programming of the network through APIs.

The networking vendor also is rolling out three new systems in its portfolio of Network Convergence System (NCS) Series routers.

The new offerings, which will become available in December, come as service providers continue to struggle with the rapidly growing amount of cloud-based network traffic, according to Cisco officials. According to Cisco's numbers, worldwide data center traffic will triple by the end of 2019, from 3.4 zettabytes last year to 10.4 zettabytes. In addition, 83 percent of total data center traffic will come from the cloud by that year. By comparison, 61 percent was cloud-related in 2014.

The Internet of things (IoT) will contribute to that growth. Cisco expects the number of connected devices, systems and sensors to jump from 25 billion last year to more than 50 billion by 2020. That combined with the growing storage needs driven by the demand for more scalable services and applications will drive the convergence of the data center and WAN, company officials said.

The software and developer tools unveiled Nov. 17 are aimed at enabling service providers to build and run cloud-scale networking environments that will allow them to handle the network traffic that is coming their way.

"As cloud-based traffic scales, there will be a need for a transformed network and IT architecture and operational model," Kelly Ahuja, senior vice president of Cisco's service provider segment, wrote in a post on the company blog. "The new measuring stick for service delivery in the era of digitization is focused on operational efficiency, optimized utilization, and service agility. At Cisco, we've been working with many large web-scale providers to develop innovative solutions to this problem. [The new cloud-scale network offerings for service providers] will bring the IT operational model to the wide-area network."

Cisco is looking to leverage the work it's done with larger cloud providers. During a conference call Nov. 12 about the company's latest quarterly financial numbers, CEO Chuck Robbins said that during the past 12 to 15 months, Cisco officials have been working with Web-scale companies to make sure the vendor's products meet their needs.

"It's really in the last year and a half that we really got … serious with them about building the solutions that they really are looking for," Robbins said. "I think that the growth that we're seeing right now as well as some of the co-development that you're going to see coming out is reflective of that focus."

Cisco's business with the largest such companies grew more than 20 percent during the quarter, he said.