Cisco Introduces the Cloud-Native Broadband Router

Cisco introduced its cloud-native CCAP, which was demonstrated at SCTE 2017. The new solution, named cnBR is not an iteration of the cBR-8, Cisco’s current hardware based CCAP, nor is the cBR-8 software ported to virtual machines. Rather, it is a completely new solution, built from the ground up as microservices-based architecture, where functions are containerized and built as a distributed collection of services that are independently scalable. The benefits of such an architecture are significant:

  • Service Velocity: Gone are the days when an operator had to regress thousands of test cases every time there was a new software release (which happened yearly or bi-yearly in most cases). Because services are now containerized, only the function that is modified needs to be retested. The implications on service velocity are substantial, as the product cycle is significantly shorted, which allows for continuous iteration, putting cable operators on par with webscalers that innovate at Internet speeds.
  • Automation: The cloud native solution is built with open APIs, which makes it possible to create self-service tools, such as auto-provisioning and self-help. • Elasticity: With a software-based solution, operators can add capacity as needed rather than commit capex long before demand materializes. It is worth noting that Cisco’s recently introduced Infinite Broadband Unlocked, which enables the vendor to share the risk with the operator by being paid based on the operator’s success rather than upfront, adds a powerful complement to the cloud-native solution.
  • Inherent Resiliency: Rather than the N+1 configurations of old, cloud solutions are resilient because processing moves to another server in the event of failure.
  • Lower Cost: Server-based solutions do not need specialized hardware and are much more efficient in terms of real-estate and power consumption. They are much easier to operate and maintain.

A cloud-based CCAP solution is the right one for cable operators that are grappling with an increasingly competitive market and with shifting subscriber needs and expectations. But what is notable is that Cisco was willing to commit resources to completely reinvent its revenue-generating hardware-based solution, the cBR-8. Cisco was faced with a classic innovator’s dilemma conundrum and was bold enough to disrupt itself to deliver what the market needs.

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