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New Architecture for Operating Mass Scale Networks

Economic challenges in existing service provider network design

As they look to the future, service providers face fundamental business challenges. Technologies such as 5G, the Internet of things (IoT), and cloud are driving digitization across multiple industries and segments. As a result, global IP traffic flows by 2022 are forecast to reach 396 Exabytes per month, which is a 3x increase from 2017.1 At the same time, users expect ever more seamless experiences across any network, device, and location. The service provider networks that power these experiences and generate profitable revenue streams will need greater scale and simpler operations.

Historically, bandwidth scarcity has caused service provider network designs to prioritize capacity utilization over operational simplicity. Intelligent network design and traffic routing maximize deployed capacity but result in complex operational models. One example of a complicated design to optimize bandwidth is building and supporting separate and parallel networks for different client experiences such as residential, business, and mobile. Each network has a distinct service level agreement (SLA) for bandwidth, quality of service, latency, and security.

Existing approaches to service provider network designs are becoming economically and operationally unsustainable. To simplify operations and unlock potential new revenue streams, it’s clear new network designs and operational models are required.



  • Reduce operational complexity and unlock potential new revenue streams.
  • Deliver improved customer experiences over converged network infrastructure.
  • Accelerate mean-time-to-repair (MTTR) with cloud-enhanced automation.
  • Increase network scalability and resiliency with fabric-based architectures.


Current network designs aren’t sustainable

To meet the performance demands for distinct SLAs, service provider engineers spend a lot of time and money dealing with network complexity just to keep it running. These operations include prioritizing traffic and engineering traffic routes to ensure quality of service for distinct customer experiences. According to IDC, global telecom operating expenses were 78.7 percent of 2018 revenue, which represented a $2.6 billion increase over 5 years. Over the same time period, revenue has decreased $110 billon.2 With bandwidth and usage continuing to explode, maximizing the utilization of network capacity and pathways becomes increasingly difficult and operations become increasingly expensive.

According to a Heavy Reading survey, global network operators rank increasing top-line revenue, meeting the demand for bandwidth growth, and protecting network infrastructure as their top three priorities.3 However, the increasing cost and complexity to certify new software into production environments slows down feature delivery and jeopardizes the ability to meet demands for revenue-generating bandwidth services. The complexity related to managing and monitoring network configurations and events results in a degradation of network performance. In the survey, network operators indicated that the cost and time to deploy new software are top-ranked challenges.4 In addition, the need to address massive traffic growth with 100 GbE connectivity and higher density 400 GbE connectivity, challenges the existing approaches to network scaling, operations, and resiliency, which still rely on complex, antiquated, and manual processes.

As service provider networks connect more devices, services, and cloud-based applications, they also become more vulnerable to security threats. With the increasing frequency and sophistication of data breaches, the importance of network security continues to grow. According to the Heavy Reading survey, 79 percent of service providers responded that trusted infrastructure is critical to their business strategy.5 However, today many services providers lack a reliable way to verify network integrity.


New network designs and operating models

The design of next generation mass-scale networks must prioritize operations. Service providers need infrastructure elements that can provide bandwidth efficiencies at massive scale. At the same time, the infrastructure must support advanced and automated operational models. These changes would simplify operations and unlock potential new revenue streams.

Breakthrough innovations from Cisco in silicon, optics, software, and systems usher in a new era of network designs and operations. These innovations provide the architectural freedom to fundamentally change the economics of networking.

The Cisco 8000 Series routing platforms are powered by the market leading Cisco Silicon One architecture and are cloud-enhanced by the combination of Cisco IOS XR7 and the Cisco Crosswork network automation suite. The platforms provide the high-performance and cloud-automated network architecture you can trust for optimized network designs and operations.

1. Converged SDN transport

The Cisco 8000 Series routers provide new levels of massive scale to converge parallel networks into a multi-service infrastructure, which results in a more efficient use of network resources. You can converge your multiple service networks into one seamless network that automatically responds to traffic flow variations, so you can offer personalized network experiences. Converged SDN Transport improves operational efficiency using automation and data analytics tools for real-time traffic-flow modeling. With real-time visibility, your engineers receive accurate data on potential growth needs and underutilized assets.

Converged SDN Transport helps you:

  • Reduce CapEx by converging disparate access, edge, and aggregation networks into an IP-over-Ethernet infrastructure that is designed to support any connectivity type and service.
  • Reduce OpEx by modernizing your network operations. You can deliver faster outcomes at lower cost and reduce complexity with greater programmability and cloud-enhanced network automation.
  • Improve the customer experience. You can deliver seamless services and personalized experiences.

2. Cloud-enhanced network systems

Cisco Crosswork Cloud modernizes automation with closed-loop, intent-based, machine-learning. Automation accelerates diagnosis, improves decision making, and can prevent incidents from occurring. By delivering analytics as a cloud service, Crosswork Cloud provides improved insights without the traditional risk and cost associated with premises-based analytics. Cisco Crosswork Qualification Environment lets you support continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD) models for your network software environment with a cloud-based test environment for software features, platforms, and configurations. Crosswork Network Insights provides improved visibility into network configurations and events. Crosswork Trust Insights enables you to visualize, report, and protect the integrity of your network.

With Crossword Cloud, you can accelerate, automate, and simplify network operations with cloud-enhanced networking systems by:

  • Certifying software into production environments more quickly with cloud-automated build and test functions.
  • Accelerating mean-time-to-repair (MTTR) with cloud-enhanced automation that can improve customer experience. (Automation led to 84 percent faster execution of maintenance procedures and 70 percent improvements in MTTR.6)
  • Reducing risk across the network with cloud-based services that enable you to take maximum advantage of the trustworthy technologies built into the Cisco platforms.

3. Fabric-based network architectures

Traditional network designs optimize bandwidth with tiering architectures that have a few high-capacity paths between large nodes that aggregate traffic from smaller nodes downstream. However, the new Cisco 8000 Series routers can provide the foundation for service provider network fabric designs that consist of many smaller nodes woven into a fabric architecture. This design offers inherent scalability, topological regularity, and operational simplicity. Fabric-based network designs that take advantage of modular and standardized elements are possible with the Cisco 8000 Series routers, which feature:

  • Capacity scale-out so you do not have to constantly rethink network architecture. Instead, as new 5G, Wi-Fi 6, or cloud-driven services ramp up, you can add more of the same high-performance hardware and let the fabric automatically flex to the needs of the new demand.
  • Network resiliency, so network availability is not lost with any link or node failure. Resiliency is built into the fabric itself, which is designed to use alternate paths to accommodate load shifting during a node failure and to maintain high availability.
  • Less-disruptive network maintenance. Simply program out a node, apply software updates and configuration changes, verify the system state to ensure the updates are correctly deployed, and program the node back in at any time.


Learn more

To learn more about the products for cloud-enhanced network designs, visit: