Uncommon Wisdom

Oct 21 2009   10:17PM GMT

Cisco’s ISR G2 and Borderless Networking: Service layer implications?

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

Cisco has announced a new generation of its popular ISR platform (G2, fittingly), and also announced an initiative/architecture called Borderless Networking. The ISR upgrades are performance enhancements to the earlier models based on what Cisco calls the “Service-Ready Engine” that can support Linux applications directly, not through the older AXP insert card.

Borderless Networking is harder to pin down, however. It appears to be what a Cisco PR video calls a “recommitment” of Cisco to some core technologies rather than a new announcement. But it is possible that Cisco will offer something new and substantive there. From the positioning, it appears to be a service-layer strategy focused on creating an “IT control plane” from Cisco’s data center and virtualization technology. Whether it’s real or slideware is the question.

Cisco often makes announcements like this to anticipate announcements by competitors, and a number of them may be planning something in the service layer area within the next month. As we’ve noted, this is a critical area, and if Cisco can create a credible “IT control plane” based on data center virtualization, it could have an impact in the space. Recent trends within Cisco management and organization, however, seem to suggest a de-emphasis on software products and on network abstraction and management, key ingredients in a service-layer strategy.

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  • UnifiedView
    From the description of Cisco's "Borderless Branch" technology in Nick Lippis' white paper on that subject, Cisco wants to make their network platform the hardware centerpiece for all network connectivity and all localized business process application software for a 'branch' location. In particular, they are focusing on this architecture to support visiting customer needs at such locations, e.g., access to remote experts, access to information etc. That puts the emphasis on the role of a "branch" location in supporting local customers, probably using limited on-site staff and self-service kiosks, rather than as a remote "office" for internal staff activities. Needless to say, visiting consumers will all be carrying their own mobile devices and will be able to access resources on their own. So, the "branch" strategy is a way to offer all flavors of "face-to-face" contacts to a customer who needs to be on premise for whatever reason.
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