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Cisco CRS-3: The Fast-Food of the Internet

by Aaron Leskiw, CCDA, CCNA, MCSE, ITILv3, MCSA, A+ - Last Updated: March 11, 2010

Someone tell the Cisco Marketing Team they’ve gone a bit overboard…

In case you missed the news this week, after much hype and hoopla Cisco released their new carrier grade router, calling the press release a:

“significant announcement” that it says “will forever change the Internet and its impact on consumers, businesses and governments.”

Cisco describes the new CRS-3 router this way:

Cisco CRS-3, powered by Cisco QuantumFlow Array – a chipset architecture engineered in multiple dimensions of scale, services, and savings

The Cisco CRS:

* Delivers continuous operations
* Scales easily from numerous single-chassis form factors to a massive multichassis system, up to 322 Tbps
* Provides industry-leading efficiency, requiring low power, cooling, and rack-space use for intelligent, service-rich bandwidth capacity

Sounds great right? So why is everyone so disappointed?

Let’s use an analogy to describe the incredible disappointment of the Cisco announcement, and just for fun let’s pick on McDonald’s for a moment. Imagine that McDonald’s claimed that tomorrow they will change the world of fast food forever. Your mind races…What could the announcement be? Speculation runs wild. Could it be organic french fries hand carved and fried in angel tears? Seahorse nuggets with pickle brine sauce? They invite journalists from far and wide to the press release.

Then the big announcement comes, and the revolution turns out to be…a Quintuple Big Mac.

Not that there’s anything wrong with 10 delicious beef patties on a sesame seed bun (or is there?), but it hasn’t exactly changed the world. All they did was make a bigger burger.

And so it is with the CRS-3. It truly is a pretty impressive piece of hardware, and the ability to process 322 Terabits/sec is an insane amount of data. This router will enable the large telecom companies to carry more data on their core.

It will take a while, but ultimately this will bring down the cost of bandwidth meaning you can buy bigger pipes. And finally, that bandwidth will enable employees to spend more time watching YouTube videos on your network with their iPads.

But that’s also why this is such a disappointing press release. This announcement really doesn’t mean anything to you unless you work for a big telecom company. You already know Cisco makes routers, and you also know they make bigger, faster ones every year. And by now you’ve seen the press release quoted repeatedly, and those impressive marketing figures are starting to fall a little flat.

Perhaps this is bigger news for the Chat Roulettes’ of the world. All Cisco really did was release a bigger, faster router. And they’ve been doing that for years.

The CRS-3 is impressive, bigger, and badder. But it’s hardly revolutionary.