Cisco unveils cloud computing platform for service providers

Cisco this week is expected to unveil a platform for service providers that's designed to serve as a foundation for delivering cloud computing services.

Called Cisco Unified Service Delivery, the system combines Cisco's CRS-1 core Internet router, Nexus 7000 data center switches and its new Unified Computing System (UCS), which integrates blade servers with switching, storage access, virtualization and management. As part of the Unified Service Delivery launch, Cisco will roll out new higher-speed modules for the CRS-1 to extend data center computing techniques, like virtualization, across the WAN for service provider peering and interconnect applications.

Cisco says the platform will optimize Cisco-supplied service and IP network elements and resources for consistent security, quality and customer experience for voice, video and data, at reduced operational cost. Traditional approaches – ostensibly, combining Cisco switches and routers with servers and storage from incumbent data center vendors -- do not quickly nor cost-effectively accommodate growth in new services profitably, Cisco says.

At first blush, the Unified Service Delivery system appears to be more packaging that innovation, designed perhaps to stimulate demand for Cisco's UCS blade server system in service provider data centers. 

"And Nexus," says Yankee Group analyst Zeus Kerravala. "This is intended to make those [products] relevant for that space."

But the meat of the announcement is in the new modules for the CRS-1, which Cisco says optimize the Internet core router for data center applications.

The modules include two new 10Gbps line cards and a 40Gbps forwarding processor designed specifically, Cisco says, to extend virtualization from the data center through the core IP network. The CRS-1 modules allow permit providers to virtualize traffic and network operations on a per-service or per-customer basis with a smaller Cisco CRS-1 footprint, Cisco says.

This system design allows service providers to accelerate service delivery and quickly adapt to changing network or customer requirements.

Rival Juniper unveiled its own service provider virtualization scheme earlier this year with the introduction of the TX Matrix Plus and its combination with the Juniper Control System 1200 control plane scaling system.

Security for the Unified Service Delivery platform is enabled through the Nexus 7000 switch and shared management capabilities between the CRS-1 and Nexus. 

But Cisco missed an opportunity to hammer home its cloud security strategy with the Unified Service Delivery launch -- and security, or lack of it by Cisco's own admission, is cloud computing's dirty little secret.

"They did not focus on it, they should have addressed it" more thoroughly in the platform;s launch, Kerravala says. "It's a necessary part."

Citing data from Synergy Research, Cisco says a unified service delivery platform can offer double the power efficiency of a traditional data center configuration, and two to seven times the operational savings over a four year period for unified communications voice and virtualized video.

Pricing for the new CRS-1 modules starts at $30,000. 

Learn more about this topic

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