Cisco Internet for the Future innovation includes critical core technology — silicon, optics and software.

Lynn Haber

December 11, 2019

6 Min Read
Cisco Debuts Next Internet Strategy and Innovation

Cisco on Wednesday fleshed out its “Internet for the Future” strategy and technology innovation built on three core elements — silicon, optics and software. Based on the new and breakthrough Cisco Silicon One technology, a unified silicon architecture that serves anywhere in the network on any form factor, Cisco announced the 8000 Series platform that runs the new IOS XR7 operating system.

The vendor also announced new flexible business model options that give customers choice in how they consume the new technology to pursue their business and technology goals. Cisco’s R&D innovation for building the new internet has been underway for more than five years.


Cisco’s Chuck Robbins

“What we’re trying to do is to create the backbone and foundation technology that is going to power the future implications of the internet, the things that we all care about,” Chuck Robbins, chairman and CEO at Cisco said in a live broadcast. “Great new solutions such as remote surgery, remote health care — it’s coming, it’s going to happen; autonomous vehicles — they’re coming, they’re going to happen; drone delivery — it’s coming, it’s going to happen; the amount of video that’s being used both personally and for business applications, for education, for interacting with your customers — this is all creating this incredible capacity issue on the internet as we know it today. In order to achieve this vision, we have to build an internet for what’s next.”

Cisco sees its job as making sure that internet connectivity worldwide remains seamless for the consumer and business. The bandwidth and traffic generated by 2022 is estimated to be equal to the aggregate internet traffic generated to date. Other numbers to justify what’s driving tomorrow’s internet: traffic doubling every 100 days; 49 billion devices connected to the internet by 2023; and 4.8 billion users, with the average person having 3.6  internet-connected devices with them.

What’s next, and what Cisco addressed in its latest innovations, is more capacity, faster speed, lower cost, agility, simplified operations and trust as the company delivers this technology. Any talk about the future internet must include 5G. Robbins noted that Cisco’s new innovations will enable 5G to realize its potential.

Cisco Silicon One, a new silicon platform, will be the foundation of Cisco’s routing portfolio going forward, with expected near-term performance availability up to 25 terabits per second (Tbps). This new networking chip is designed to be universally adaptable across service provider and web-scale markets, and it is designed for fixed and modular platforms. The first Cisco Silicon One Q100 model surpasses the 10 Tbps routing milestone for network bandwidth without sacrificing programmability, buffering, power efficiency, scale or feature flexibility, the company said.

Eyal Dagan, senior vice president, who leads all silicon development at Cisco, calls Cisco Silicon One “the holy grail of silicon.”

“You typically would like to build silicon that is optimized for one place, solving a particular problem. Building a single silicon that enables all – access, core, edge – the solution has to shine and be the best in any one of those market segments, you need to master everything. And,that’s what we tried to do,” said Dagan.

Cisco talks about Silicon One as a clean-sheet architecture, a single network ASIC, that will power digital innovation for the next several decades.

For customers, Cisco Silicon One and the devices based on it solve complexity with a single architecture. Benefits to customers include: one experience, development simplification and operational simplification.

Cisco announced its first device today but …

… has more in the pipeline.


Cisco’s David Goeckeler

“There’ll be many more derivations of this — scale up, scale down, but the key is the same software interfaces, the same software stack across all the different devices,” said David Goeckeler, executive vice president and general manager, networking and security business at Cisco.

Bob Laliberte, senior analyst at ESG, contends that if the performance numbers cited for Cisco Silicon One are accurate, it represents game changing technology reminiscent of the early days of virtual machine consolidation. “This could be really impactful for cloud service providers and telcos as capacity continues to grow unchecked but revenues [particularly for telcos] are flat,” he said.

Cisco’s new routing portfolio, the Cisco 8000, based on the new silicon, features carrier class routers for building and operating mass-scale networks for 5G, AI and IoT. Product features include:

  • Optimized for 400 Gbps and beyond, starting at 10.8 Tbps in a single rack unit.

  • Powered by the new, cloud-enhanced Cisco IOS XR7 networking operating system software, designed to simplify operations and lower operational costs.

  • Offers enhanced cybersecurity with integrated trust technology for real-time insights into the trustworthiness of critical infrastructure.

  • More bandwidth scale and programmability to deliver Tbps in power and space-constrained network locations.

“We have an opportunity with the new silicon as well as the new platform to solve for not just capex challenges but operational challenges as well,” said Jonathan Davidson, senior vice president and general manager, service provider business at Cisco.

He talked about changing the economics of networking with the new programmable silicon architecture in the Cisco 8000, noting 39% improved opex and 66% improved TCO.

Again, ESG’s Laliberte contends that the 8000 series portfolio, already in field trials, could be significant for telcos rolling out 5G with needs to handle significantly increased capacity.

Cisco’s new IOS XR7 is the first cloud enhanced network operating system for critical infrastructure — it’s designed to be simple, modern and trustworthy.

“We’re actually enabling our customers to pick the features and capabilities that they want, and they can build an image with only the elements and components that they want,” said Davidson.

Cisco also has a strategy in place for optics, or how Cisco ties together its newest innovations. That three-part strategy: Optics will drive architectural transitions; enable different consumption models — for example, fully integrated systems, plugables and components; and Cisco optics on non-Cisco hosts. Goeckeler calls optics “an innovation lever.”

Finally, Cisco addressed new flexible business models. The company announced plans to offer flexible consumption models first established with its optics portfolio, followed by the disaggregation of Cisco IOS XR7 software, now including Silicon One. This new model offers customers choice of components, white box, or integrated systems to build their networks.

“From a partner perspective, wrapping it all into flexible business models that allow partners to be flexible themselves in how they engage with their clients is nothing but a good thing for those partners that have the skills and access to capital to deliver complexity,” said Kevin Rhone, practice director, channel acceleration at ESG.

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About the Author(s)

Lynn Haber

Content Director Lynn Haber follows channel news from partners, vendors, distributors and industry watchers. If I miss some coverage, don’t hesitate to email me and pass it along. Always up for chatting with partners. Say hi if you see me at a conference!

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