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GCOMM network to be powered by Cisco ASR1006 5

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Michael Bellears
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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.

The rollout

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.

♦ End

About Michael Bellears

Michael Bellears
Michael has been working with GCOMM since 1999. He has always enjoyed using computers and was accepted into a Computer Science degree at Deakin University. At GCOMM he is now responsible for the management and operation of GCOMM’s WAN network. He has travelled extensively throughout Europe and Egypt. He is married and has two young children, his “greatest accomplishment”.
  • Great article Mick, we don’t often show whats under the hood when it comes to Network infrastructure, but this is a very positive move after what we know has been a very exhaustive process for you.

    Well done and congratulations for bringing this project to fruition.

    Cheers!

  • Thanks Steve – Certainly were many variables to consider. The ASR ticked all the boxes, and cant wait to have it in production!

  • Adam Tessieri

    It’s another great step forward in GCOMMs network evolution, will be fantastic to be on this new platform shortly. The stability and availability of the GCOMM network is a statistic you can be proud of, it underpins the entire GCOMM operation.

  • The ASR’s most notable new feature is its ESP module, all of which features the 40-core Quantum Flow Processor (QFP). Through separate software licenses, QFP supports numerous services such as firewalls, NetFlow and Nbar classifiers and, in the future, caching load balancers. The ESP module also offers powerful QoS features, with 128,000 queues and support for up to 1,000 global policies and classification maps. GCOMM has made the right choice!

  • Anthony Jackson

    GCOMM’s decision to upgrade to the new generation Cisco platform could not have been achieved without the countless number of hours that has been dedicated to research, testing and of course implementing this hardware upgrade. I would like to congratulate you Mick on what must have been an arduous process. Thanks to you GCOMM’s foundations are looking very solid.