Cisco raises flag to claim the foundation of the Internet's future

Is Cisco's CRS-3 the foundation of the next generation Internet?
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

As my ZDnet colleague, Sam Diaz, mentioned in the post Cisco unveils new router to drive video; Big expectations ahead, Cisco has launched a new router, the Cisco CRS-3. This device is designed to be a tool for the major carriers. Although this product clearly is an outgrowth of today's technology, Cisco's marketing folks were declaring that this product would be the foundation for the next generation of the internet. A bit of hyperbole never hurt someone writing press release text!

Here's what Cisco has to say about the CRS-3

Cisco today announced a major advancement in Internet networking - the Cisco® CRS-3 Carrier Routing System (CRS) - designed to serve as the foundation of the next-generation Internet and set the pace for the astonishing growth of video transmission, mobile devices and new online services through this decade and beyond.

With more than 12 times the traffic capacity of the nearest competing system, the Cisco CRS-3 is designed to transform the broadband communication and entertainment industry by accelerating the delivery of compelling new experiences for consumers, new revenue opportunities for service providers, and new ways to collaborate in the workplace.


  • The Cisco CRS-3 triples the capacity of its predecessor, the Cisco CRS-1 Carrier Routing System, with up to 322 Terabits per second, which enables the entire printed collection of the Library of Congress to be downloaded in just over one second; every man, woman and child in China to make a video call, simultaneously; and every motion picture ever created to be streamed in less than four minutes.
  • The Cisco CRS-3 enables unified service delivery of Internet and cloud services with service intelligence spanning service provider Internet Protocol Next-Generation Networks (IP NGNs) and data center. The Cisco CRS-3 also provides unprecedented savings with investment protection for the nearly 5,000 Cisco CRS-1 deployed worldwide.  Cisco's cumulative investment in the Cisco CRS family is $1.6 billion, further underscoring the company's commitment.
  • AT&T, one of the world's largest telecommunications companies, recently tested the Cisco CRS-3 in a successful completion of the world's first field trial of 100-Gigabit backbone network technology, which took place in AT&T's live network between New Orleans and Miami. The trial advances AT&T's development of the next generation of backbone network technology that will support the network requirements for the growing number of advanced services offered by AT&T to consumer and business customers, both fixed and mobile.
  • The Cisco CRS-3 is currently in field trials, and its pricing starts at $90,000 U.S.

Snapshot analysis

It is increasingly clear that the future of the internet includes much more than simply Email, Worldwide Web and both application and data access. The internet is becoming a tool to deliver music, television, telephone conversations and other forms of video. Each new type of content puts stress on the internet backbone. If we add in the never ending appetite for content displayed by today's laptop, internet tablet and smartphone users, we can clearly see a need for a faster backbone and that leads directly to better routers and network virtualization technology.

That being said, does Cisco's CRS-3 represent a product that is the foundation of the next generation of the internet? That bit of hyperbole seems only partially supportable. The internet is far more than just routing even if Cisco's claims for vast scale, intelligence to accelerate cloud-based services and network virtualization capabilities to better route various types of content are true. Furthermore, other suppliers of routers, such as Juniper, are going to have their say as well. The internet has evolved beyond being servers attached to a big network of networks. It is now the foundation of many different types of conversations, a storehouse of data, a way for people to communicate just about anywhere to just about anywhere else and the foundation for products and services we've only begun to create. I don't think that Cisco can claim to be the foundation for all of those things even though the CRS-3 could be very helpful.

It is a bit like the supplier of a transmission, a better transmission than those offered in the past, is claiming to have created a better automobile. While Cisco certain has a place in the ever evolving Internet, what others are doing may be considered equally or, perhaps, even more important overall.

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