Cisco Launches Next-Gen Switches

Platforms aid move to carrier ethernet.

Cisco Systems has expanded its carrier access offerings by launching a new platform that could help service providers launch next-generation services.

The Cisco ME 6524 Ethernet Switch is the second in Ciscos new line of Metro Ethernet switches. The switch is intended to let carriers leverage their fiber infrastructure to deliver new services such as consumer triple play (voice, video and data), as well as business-class VPN services over Ethernet.

The Cisco ONS 15310 MA Multiservice Provisioning Platform provides Ethernet services over SONET (Synchronous Optical Network) infrastructures.

Cisco added a Carrier Ethernet practice in its professional services organization that adds systems integration services to help carriers design, deploy and optimize the Cisco products for next-generation services, according to Mark Milinkovich, marketing director for Ciscos Service Provider Products and Technologies organization in San Jose, Calif.

Cisco sees Carrier Ethernet as "the converged layer for intelligent services," Milinkovich said. "Ethernet is a well-known interface; it can have a lot of encapsulation mechanisms; [carriers] can apply quality of service; and its low-cost and ubiquitous."

The new switch and provisioning platforms are designed to help carriers migrate to Carrier Ethernet, regardless of the type of infrastructure or service architecture theyre using on installed fiber networks.

"That fiber infrastructure deployed today is a strategic asset for the carriers to deliver advanced services such as triple play or IP TV. How each one uses that asset is different," Milinkovich said.

Despite the relatively new Metro Ethernet product line, Cisco has already amassed significant market share for Carrier Ethernet switches and routers, according to Michael Howard, founder of Infonetics Research, also in San Jose.

"It turns out Cisco has a huge market share, more than anyone in this area with their current lineup of Catalyst 6500 switches and IP [edge] routers. What they had not done is recognize a product aimed directly at Metro Ethernet," Howard said. Cisco had a 75 percent share in a $2.1 billion market last year, but it will not see that kind of share again because many more competitive products are coming into the market, he added.

The Cisco ME 6524, based on the Catalyst 6500, is a fixed-configuration Metro Ethernet switch optimized for triple-play consumer services and VPN business services. Due in the second quarter, the switch will support IP Multicast, provide security functions and offer MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching), as well as IPv6 capabilities.

The ONS 15310-MA Multiservice Provisioning Platform, available now, enables Carrier Ethernet over SONET infrastructures by supporting both TDM (time-division multiplexing) and Ethernet.