After many restless nights, I am happy to report that after extensive testing, discussions, consultations and negotiations we have decided to settle on the next generation of Cisco Aggregation Services Routers (ASR) to power our GCOMM network.
Whilst it will take a few months to migrate the existing network to the new platform, it seems like a walk in the park when comparing to the complexity of so many different technologies and ways that networks can be constructed.
Unsurprisingly Cisco was our choice
Over the last decade we have been running the GCOMM network on the Cisco 7200 series routers. These have been extremely reliable and modular enough to support changes in technology. We originally started with the 300Mhz processor, migrated to the 400Mhz processor and then to the 2Ghz processor (the processor speed determines the routing throughput of the device). The 7200 series will become end of life in the near future and there will no longer be support available for them.
The fact that we have used Cisco equipment for over a decade, our internal knowledge, availability of skills in the market and the support of Cisco that we have become accustomed to, makes it near impossible to convince us to move to another platform. I was however impressed with the Juniper line, but the risk of moving to a new routing platform was just too great.
The Cisco 6500/7600 or ASR platform?
When choosing the next generation platform for GCOMM, there was so much to consider. After all, we aggregate thousands of services and have over 100 carrier interconnects handed off on ATM and Ethernet. The ASR platform will enhance GCOMM’s carrier agnostic proposition which means we can continue to provision most broadband circuit types into a single private network, irrespective of the delivery point of the service or the carrier.
Both the Cisco 6500 and 7600 have extremely attractive features and performance, but after extensive comparisons of the three platforms, it was hard to go past the ASR.
Creating redundancy with hot standby
We are in the business of providing uptime and reliability. Our customers know that we are doing a great job when we are never seen nor heard. This means that everything simply just works and performs well. It is a fact that a lot of planning, on all levels, is necessary in order to build a robust network. Physical carrier infrastructure, power, switching and routing infrastructure are all required to be well thought through in order to deliver the level of performance demanded by our customers.
One of the main challenges was how to deliver a robust routing solution. With so many carrier interconnects and the complexity of the GCOMM network we had to make some compromises in order to deliver the right outcome.
The technical aspects of our configuration
Our primary ASR routers at each of our Points of Presence (POPs) will have redundant Embedded Service Processors (ESPs), Route Processors (RPs), Shared Port Adapters (SPAs), SPA Interface Processors (SIPs), and also redundant power supplies. As you can see, this will form an extremely high availability (HA) platform. To be completely prepared in the unlikely event of a failure in the primary chassis and interface cards, we also have invested in a standby ASR chassis at each POP. Reliability and performance are part of the GCOMM commitment and as such we are very focused on minimising downtime on our network.
The Cisco ASR1006 is powerful and scalable
It’s always nice to play with a new shiny toy. The performance and statistics on the 1006 are impressive. It comes native with a 10Gb throughput, which can easily be expanded to an amazing 100Gb throughput. It supports all interface cards such as ATM and Ethernet meaning it will cater for all existing technologies plus ensure we are well prepared for the NBN.
We have been testing the new routing hardware in our lab on the Gold Coast for the past few months. Over this time, we have been bringing in the hardware and developing the configuration required to make a seamless migration. Our plan, of course, is to minimise any disruption.
As you can probably tell, I am pretty excited about the new equipment. Whilst the 7200 series equipment has performed brilliantly, there comes a time when everything must be replaced. We expect the Brisbane POP to be completed by the end of September and the next major upgrade to take place later on this year.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email me or give me a call at 1 300 221 115.