Episode 158 - Smarter Routers

See, they are FANS of the show...

See, they are FANS of the show...

I really don’t envy the Cisco ISR team. It is really tough to be a leader and still out perform yourselves on a consistent basis.  One could argue there is nowhere to go but down.  I think is cool that TechWiseTV has been around long enough to chronicle the changes over time.  Heck, many of our favorite engineers have been around the entire time as well..that gives us the unique ability to tell a story that can both respect and hopefully contrast the evolution in an appreciative way.  

 We recently had a chance to showcase the new ISR 4000 Series.  ISR remains the acronym for this family as it stands in for ‘Integrated Services Router.’  I am sure we made this argument before, but one way to characterize this one is to see just how much the innovation swings towards the ‘I’ and the ’S’ these days.  It makes sense. There is only so much one can do from a pure routing perspective, especially if you consider that speeds and feeds will grow naturally with the rest of the market and nobody pays the Cisco premium for just keeping up with the Joneses. 

Quit Reading, Start Watching:
 TWTV 158 - Smarter Routers for the Intelligent WAN 

This new series is a compliment to the old family line referred to as the ISR G2.  We covered that one back in 2009 with episode 53 ‘The Router is Dead. Long Live the Router.’  It is fun, for me anyway, to go back and see if my superlatives have gotten any less superlative. 

We even got a sneak peak of the architecture, yet to come at that point, when the ISR 4451 came out ahead of its family. 

 This filled in a bit of a gap with nice high end router for the branch that kept many customers of being forced to jump up into the full on ASR series which was really positioned for Service Providers.  

From the great many to the powerful few

From the great many to the powerful few

Now the whole gang has arrived and we can see mid-sized models for price and performance specs with all new services and scale. 

Matt Bolick keeping it real

Matt Bolick keeping it real

We did get to play with our favorite ISR expert Matt Bolick once again.  He too has been on the show with us throughout these transitions so of course, our job gets even easier.  He encouraged us to meet him at Cisco RTP (North Carolina) as this meant no travel for him…but more importantly, it was the home of the innovation. This is where much of the ISR team continues to toil away building the better platform.  

  • Matt told us that the focus needed to be not on the speed increases but on the inside out changes to architecture in support of new service enablement.  To be specific, how efficient this platform performs under load. The reality of services in actual use.
    • Look for how CPU cores can be brought up ‘on demand.’  Literal booster pumps that ensure that your performance stays right where you need it.  
    • We pop the cover to the physical layout for sure, but we also cover the changes to packet as we expose the logic flow.
    • See how Services can now be turned up with just a license key. 
    • Embrace and understand the power and flexibility now available with Service Containers. 
    • There is a lot ASR innovation available now in the ISR...can you spot it?
    • Check out Matt's blog on the new series: One Platform to Rule them ALL
This was our last show with Tina Shakour.  Follow her online: @tinashakour.  She has joined back up with Laura Powers as they commandeer social media for Cisco. 


Tina covered some of the Akamai enabled services in a great interview with Mike Woods.  

Tina Shakour with Mike Woods at Akamai

Tina Shakour with Mike Woods at Akamai

Fundamentals of Service Containers

UCS E-Series

UCS E-Series Single Wide

UCS E-Series Single Wide

All the new on-box capabilities built in here can make it easy to overlook the UCS E-Series.  Having this kind of flexible compute power that can simply slide into your router remains an incredible option for the space constrained branch office.  We covered what improvements were made here as well. 

Robb Boyd, Tina Shakour, Jimmy Ray Purser

Robb Boyd, Tina Shakour, Jimmy Ray Purser

I still feel like true service enablement in the branch is only possible when appliances can be eliminated and nobody notices.  Cisco should continue to both maintain and grow our leadership in this area that is so core to our company.  Nice job ISR dudes.    

Did you read this far and STILL have not gone to see the actual show?  Shame on you:  It’s a lot better than anything I am penning here:  See Episode 158: Smarter Routers for the Intelligent WAN

As always.

Thanks for letting us play. 



Need a new Bar Bet?

Couple of things we talked about on the show that may win you a free drink…doubtful you will get a date using any of these….but if you do…hats off!  Marry that one. 

It’s not the size of my rack…

If you were to rack up every member of the ISR 4000 series, how many RU would you have?    How does that compare to the ISR G2?  

Well, there are only 5 of them now vs 9 in the previous family.  They have also gotten a bit slimmer.  By my calculation, we have gone from 21 RU to 7 RU.  That blows my mind.  Much more of a difference than I would have thought.  Now, for the life of me, I can’t think of any practical reason you would rack them up that way…

Conspiracy Theory

Cisco is generally nothing if not practical when it comes to product names. The internal code names when things are under wraps is usually something cool…when it comes out for the public…we end up with some diminishing set of numbers and acronyms.  Most of which are having to now be recycled as we are running out of options.  

The numbers on this series are practical however.  I pitched it to Jimmy Ray as a conspiracy…in jest of course…

Do you know what each number represents? 

Well, there are two different series - 4400 and 4300.

  • Using the 4431 as an example, you can see that each one of the four digits represents something useful: 
    • First Digit: “4” - 4000 Family…. (Easy…)
    • Second Digit: “4” - 4000 Series…
    • Third Digit: “3” - 3 Slots available (NM’s/SM’s)
    • Fourth Digit - “1” - first generation of these…(all of them)
ISR 4431

ISR 4431