Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Cisco reveals plans for new internet

Steve Rogerson
December 17, 2019



Cisco has unveiled more details behind its technology strategy for building a new internet, one designed to push digital innovation beyond the performance, economic and power consumption limitations of current infrastructure.
 
With a multi-year approach that is defining the internet for decades to come, Cisco says its strategy is already delivering technology breakthroughs to pave the way for the world's developers to create applications and services they have only begun to imagine.
 
The latest innovations are the Silicon One networking silicon architecture and the 8000 series of carrier class routers built on the silicon. The company has also announced purchasing options that let its customers consume the technology through disaggregated business models.
 
"Innovation requires focused investment, the right team and a culture that values imagination," said Chuck Robbins, chairman and CEO of Cisco. "We are dedicated to transforming the industry to build a new internet for the 5G era. Our latest solutions in silicon, optics and software represent the continued innovation we're driving that helps our customers stay ahead of the curve and create new, ground-breaking experiences for their customers and end users for decades to come."
 
Over the next decade, digital experiences will be created with technologies. These include virtual and augmented reality, 16K streaming, AI, 5G, 10G, quantum computing, adaptive and predictive cyber security, and intelligent IoT. Future applications will drive complexity beyond the capabilities current internet infrastructure can viably support.
 
For the past five years, Cisco has driven a technology strategy that is building the internet for the future success of business in a digital world. Aimed at solving the toughest problems that will emerge as digital transformation taxes current infrastructure to its breaking point, this strategy should lead to internet infrastructure that combines Cisco's silicon architecture with its latest optics.
 
The strategy aims to change the economics behind how the internet will be built to support the demands of future, digital applications and will help users operate their businesses with simpler, more cost-effective networks. The strategy is based on development and investments in the three key technology areas of silicon, optics and software.
 
"Pushing the boundaries of innovation to the next level – far beyond what we experience today – is critical for the future and we believe silicon, optics and software are the technology levers that will deliver this outcome," said David Goeckeler, executive vice president at Cisco. "Cisco's technology strategy is not about the next-generation of a single product area. We have spent the past several years investing in whole categories of independent technologies that we believe will converge in the future, and ultimately will allow us to solve the hardest problems on the verge of eroding the advancement of digital innovation. This strategy is delivering the most ambitious development project the company has ever achieved."
 
Silicon One will be the foundation of Cisco's routing portfolio going forward, with expected near-term performance availability up to 25Tbit/s. This is the industry's first networking chip designed to be universally adaptable across service provider and web-scale markets.
 
Designed for both fixed and modular platforms, it can manage the challenging requirements in a way that's never been done before. The Silicon One Q100 model surpasses the 10Tbit/s routing milestone for network bandwidth without sacrificing programmability, buffering, power efficiency, scale or feature flexibility.
 
Traditionally, multiple types of silicon with different capabilities are used across a network and even within a single device. Developing features and testing can be lengthy and expensive. Unified and programmable silicon should help network operators reduce costs of operations and reduce time-to-value for new services.
 
"We look forward to working with Cisco as it enters the high-end routing silicon space, collaborating to help meet the next generation of network demands for higher speeds and greater capacity," said Amin Vahdat, fellow and vice president of systems infrastructure at Google Cloud.
 
Najam Ahmad, vice president of network engineering at Facebook, added: "Facebook has been a strong advocate for network disaggregation and open ecosystems, launching key industry initiatives such as the Open Compute Project and the Telecom Infrastructure Project to transform the networking industry. Cisco's new Silicon One architecture is aligned with this vision, and we believe this model offers network operators diverse and flexible options through a disaggregated approach."
 
The 8000 series is the first platform built with Q100. It is engineered to help service providers and web-scale companies reduce the costs of building and operating mass-scale networks for the 5G, AI and IoT era.
 
It is optimised for 400Gbit/s and beyond, starting at 10.8Tbit/s in a single rack unit. And it is powered by the cloud-enhanced Cisco IOS XR7 networking operating software, designed to simplify operations and lower operational costs.
 
Cyber security comes from integrated trust technology for real-time insights into the trustworthiness of critical infrastructure.
 
Service providers will gain more bandwidth scale and programmability to deliver Tbit/s in power and space constrained network locations.
 
Cisco is working with a group of its customers on deployments and trials of the 8000 series. STC, a telecoms services provider in the Middle East and Northern Africa, is the first to deploy the technology. On-going trials include Comcast and NTT Communications.
 
Building an internet that can support future digital innovation will depend on continued breakthroughs in silicon and optics technologies. Cisco is working in both areas.
 
As port rates increase from 100G to 400G and beyond, optics become an increasingly larger portion of the cost to build and operate internet infrastructure. Cisco is investing organically to assure its customers that as router and switch port rates continue to increase, optics will be designed to meet stringent reliability and quality standards.
 
Through the company's qualification programme, Cisco will test its optics to comply with standards and operate in Cisco and non-Cisco hosts. With this programme, its customers can use Cisco optics in applications where non-Cisco hosts have been deployed and have confidence that the optics will meet reliability and quality standards.
 
In addition, as silicon and silicon photonics advance, functions that were traditionally delivered in separate chassis-based products will soon be available in pluggable form factors. This transition has potential benefits for network operators in terms of operational simplicity. Cisco is investing in silicon photonics technologies to effect architectural transitions in data centre and service provider networks to drive down cost, reduce power and space, and simplify network operations.
 
Cisco has also announced plans to offer flexible consumption models first established with its optics portfolio, followed by the disaggregation of the IOS-XR software, and now including Silicon One. This model is adaptable and offers customers a choice of components, white box or integrated systems to build their networks. This approach is said to match the evolving nature of operators selecting discrete or aggregated technology elements for their build-out and create economics of the internet to improve business value.