Cisco introduced some management software that virtualizes network operations, along with trio of systems that otherwise would have little to do with each other beyond being based on Ethernet and that they can all be managed with the new software.

The three hardware platforms do all touch “endpoints” in a network, and could all, presumably, be used by any single network operator, so to that end, Cisco is lumping them all together in what it’s calling its Elastic Access portfolio.

The three new platforms for addressing service provider carrier Ethernet and mobile backhaul solutions are:

  • The ME 4600 Series Multiservice Optical Access Platform: This platform scales aggregation services and enables operators to offer both end-user and wholesale services using gigabit passive optical network (GPON) technology.
  • The ASR 902 and ASR 920: The new Cisco ASR 900 Series converged time-division multiplexing (TDM) and Ethernet aggregation platforms offer reduced footprint, cost, and feature compatibility with the ASR 903. They support autonomic networking for IP devices and complement the ASR 901 cell site router.
  • The ME 1200 Ethernet Access Device: This service delivery demarcation device is ready for Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) 2.0 services for today's mobile and cloud applications.

The software is called Virtualized Elastic Access management. Virtualized management-based controllers on the company’s Unified Computing System (UCS) allow cloud-based management to scale to thousands of access devices, Cisco said.  

It enables autonomic access operations, providing unconstrained management of any remote end point, Cisco said. Other features include:

  • Zero-touch network virtualization (nV) provisioning extends to the furthest endpoints with highly secure auto discovery and autoconfiguration.
  • Simplified operation of access nodes reducing manual touch points and errors and cutting provisioning steps by up to 56 percent.
  • Automatic provisioning and management for "bandwidth-on-the-fly" extensibility extend from the core to the most remote access point and back.

Cisco claims the solutions in its Elastic Access portfolio can help service providers reduce network deployment costs by up to 56 percent and maintenance costs by up to 21 percent through virtualization, programmability, economical scale and architectural convergence in the access segment of the network.

The new software-defined networking (SDN)-enabled Cisco Elastic Access portfolio is an element of the Cisco Evolved Programmable Network (EPN), the infrastructure layer consisting of physical and virtual devices working together to form an end-to-end unified fabric for a programmable network.