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March 28, 2018

Separation of software, hardware aims to boost Cisco customer capabilities

Customers will see greater flexibility and opportunities for innovation with new capabilities from Cisco.

By April Slattery

Cisco has said it will separate its router and switch software from the hardware that hosts it, following demand from customers and offer new capabilities.

The company has said the aim of separating these capabilities is to provide better services to fit the needs of its customers, enabling them to be more flexible to innovate and drive business outcomes.

Cisco has split The Nexus OS software from the hardware and introduced new capabilities. These include a software-only IOS XR product for service providers and enhancements to its XE. Within the changes to its capabilities, Cisco has announced the expansion of its IOS XR APIs. Cisco has said it will expand the hardware platforms that are supported by IOS XR, enabling it to run on fixed routers powered by Cisco.

The disaggregated IOS XR allows software to run on silicon-based switches and routers, as well as virtualised instances and a set of third-part devices. IOS XR can also easily be integrated with a third-party device, completely dependent on customer engagement and the opportunities businesses have.

Separation of software, hardware aims to boost Cisco customer capabilities

The new capabilities give customers much more flexibility.


“Cisco is expanding our software disaggregation capabilities in the areas where it makes the most sense, for added scale and functionality and to provide more flexible consumption of innovation that drives business outcomes,” Sumeet Arora, SVP of Service Provider Network Systems at Cisco, said. “This unique approach allows us to draw on our innovation in network silicon, hardware, and software to offer a range of consumption models that gives our customers the flexibility they want while offering the dependability and support they need for the long-term.”

For Cisco’s data centre customers there is a cloud scale SAI, which allows customers to have the flexibility and freedom to run a network operating system of their choice on Cisco’s SAI-ready Nexus platforms.  The company has said it has also made it possible to run NX-OS on third-party hardware platforms, which means customers an leverage the software to hardware platforms that best suit their needs.

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The company has taken the capability one step further, giving customers the opportunity to evaluate how they can best use the solution with a virtual NX-OS. Cisco customers can trial new features and capabilities through the tooling environment, to assess how it would affect their actual large-scale outcomes.

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“It’s a really exciting day for all of us in the Service Provider Business as we are formally disaggregating the Cisco IOS XR operating system,” Yvette Kanouff, SVP Service Provider at Cisco, said. “Our disaggregation story continues to build momentum, and it’s great to see Cisco continuing to lead in operating systems, virtualisation and disaggregation.”

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