A new solution that uses plug-in technology makes it cost-effective to deploy segment routing across the whole network

The pressure on service providers is rapidly increasing. Globally, demands for bandwidth are doubling every 18 months and the number of devices being used to connect to the internet is doubling every 24 months.

If service providers try to meet this challenge using the same approaches they have used up to now, their costs will soon get out of hand.

Businesses in the sector are increasingly aware that they will need to adapt in order to continue to be viable. That their networks will need to become more automated and streamlined in order to meet new requirements for capacity, control and agility.

But how exactly can they do this? One of the key technologies that service providers are deploying to help them transform their networks is segment routing.

The benefits of segment routing

Segment routing enables data to take more efficient paths through a network, without the need for extensive programming.

This in turn means that the system can function in a more simple, flexible and automated way . It allows service providers to make better use of their capacity, managing traffic with greater control and less supervision.

So as well as being able to provide more flexible services, they can also make big operational savings . And on top of this, segment routing brings about a number of more specific opportunities to provide a better standard of service.

One option is offering specific low latency paths through the network for customers dependent on high speeds. In some areas of business, like high frequency currency trading, this can make all the difference.

Another is improving your reliability by creating two completely distinct paths for data between important points, like data centres . If one connection is disrupted, you know that data will automatically be routed along the other path.

These benefits explain why increasing

numbers of service providers are investing in segment routing to support their network transformation. Last year, for example, we announced that we were working with Colt Technology Services  on a system-wide 100 Gigabit per second upgrade to Colt’s pan-European and Asian network. The upgrade will allow Colt to support cloud-scale applications to its customers.

“We are focused on providing customers with world-class, high-bandwidth connectivity services,” said Rajiv Datta, the chief technology officer at Colt, when the deal was announced.

“Our investment in Cisco not only delivers 100Gbps connectivity; we are able to automate the provision of services to meet the exacting demands of our customers and enable businesses of all sizes to future-proof their connectivity.”

Introducing segment routing across the network

Cisco led the way in developing segment routing. And it’s now leading the way in creating technology that will enable service providers to fully realise its benefits.

We’ve created a streamlined router that integrates the IP and optical layers in the aggregation part of the network. It’s small enough to fit in your laptop bag and works using simple plug-in technology.

This means that service providers no longer have to build expensive infrastructure, that uses up a lot of power and space, in order to create new capacity. Instead, our convergence technology allows them to push up to 20 times more traffic along the fibres they already have.

Innovation through programmability

Our solution works by making it much more affordable to deploy coherent dense wavelength division multiplexing 200G (DWDM) down into aggregation networks. And that enables service providers to scale their architecture for 5G and beyond.

At the same time, it’s the ideal opportunity to add segment routing capabilities to this part of the network, and create the opportunity to program application paths and service level agreements closer to the customers who use them. When you introduce programmability across the whole network, you can manage your resources with the efficiency and control needed to support the innovative services of the future.

If they try to build networks that can support future growth using old approaches, service providers are likely to find their plans are full of holes. With our convergence solution, there’s a new way to plug the gap.

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