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Cisco adds programmability to Internet routers


Cisco this week enhanced its network operating system software to boost the performance of cloud applications and reduce operational costs.

As promised last week by CEO Chuck Robbins, Cisco unveiled an upgrade to its IOS XR software that features improved programmability and tighter integration with popular IT configuration and management tools. The software was developed with some leading web companies, based on their operational best practices, but Cisco did not identify which ones.

Cisco also rolled out three additions to its Network Convergence System (NCS)Series router line, which runs IOS XR.

The enhancements to IOS XR, which is deployed across over 50,000 live network routers, include software modularity and extensibility; large-scale automation; and fine-grained visibility and control.

For software modularity and extensibility, IOS XR now supports popular DevOps IT and network automation tools like Chef and Puppet. This facilitates orchestration of hosted third-party applications with the IOS XR/NCS network.

IOS XR also includes a software development kit and support though the Cisco DevNet developer program for further feature or function extensibility. And for large-scale automation, IOS XR supports data model-driven APIs like YANG and OpenConfig so that the software can adapt to any customer’s operational environment.

For visibility and control, IOS XR supports contextual network insight through data-model driven access to operational state data. This provides much more visibility than polling tools like SNMP, Cisco says.

IOS XR also supports telemetry and segment routing traffic engineering for more granular network control based on more analytical data with which to reconfigure routes.

To run IOS XR, Cisco added three more platforms to its NCS router line. They include the NCS 5000, with four routed 100G Ethernet ports for MPLS routing in metro aggregation; the NCS 5500, for up to 288 routed 100G ports for WAN aggregation; and the NCS 1000, which supports 100/200/250Gbps wavelengths over existing fiber at distances exceeding 3,000 km.

These new platforms and the enhancements to IOS XR will be available in December. Cisco said it also plans to extend the IOS XR enhancements to the ASR 9000 and CSR router lines as well.

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