Simple, Scalable, Programmable & Sustainable Metro with Cisco NCS5500/NC5700

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According to Cisco’s Annual Internet Report, the number of devices connected to IP networks will be more than three times the global population by 2023. There will be 3.6 networked devices per capita by 2023, up from 2.4 networked devices per capita in 2018. There will be 29.3 billion networked devices by 2023, up from 18.4 billion in 2018. According to Gartner, by 2025 more than 75% of the computing data will need to be analyzed, processed, and stored closer to the end users. New paradigms such as 5G introduction, rapid growth in video traffic, and proliferation of IoT and cloud services model require unprecedented flexibility, elasticity and scale from the network. Increasing bandwidth demands and decreasing ARPU is putting pressure to reduce network cost. At the same time, services need to be deployed faster and more cost-effectively to stay competitive. The metro network becomes the key to this transformation where we see services getting terminated and end users looking for better experiences. In this article, we will discuss latest trends in the metro architecture and how communication service providers (CSPs) can design their network for optimized value proposition.

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Metro Architecture Shift

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We are seeing a major architecture shift in the way the new metro fabric is evolving. Applications (8K Video, Gaming, AR/VR) are becoming more dynamic requiring differentiated user experiences and optimizing distributed compute and decomposed network resources in places where power and space are constrained. These trends have driven the evolution of our product portfolio with enhanced software capabilities and compact form-factors. As we look into the future, the trends will require even more accelerated innovation.

Need for architecture transistion

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In the past CSPs used to build siloed networks for their mobile, enterprise and residential networks. But this creates challenges for them to maintain their networks efficiently. They need to move to a single transport network which allows them to move to faster service delivery. The Converged Transport architecture uses advanced features and technology to help CSPs design and migrate to a network prepared to scale to meet the stringent bandwidth and performance demands of their customers. At the fundamental level, it drives simplification into the CSP’s network and operations.

Implementing the Converged Transport architecture will allow CSPs to realize the following business benefits:

  • Reduced operational complexity for network management
  • Increased revenue with a service-focused, service-centric network
  • Improved time to market for new value-added services
  • Optimized utilization of fiber capacity
  • Decreased operational and capital expenditures associated with the network

Evolved Metro Use cases

Below are some of the use cases which we see will drive the evolution of the metro architecture as well as the products.

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NCS5500/5700 Portfolio Evolution for supporting the converged metro

The Cisco NCS 5500/5700 Series is an industry-leading portfolio developed to handle massive traffic growth. It is designed for operational simplicity and for efficiently meeting the scaling needs of large enterprises, web, utilities and service providers. It comprises a range of products in fixed (1RU,2RU,3RU) and Modular (4,8,16 slots) form factors.

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Portfolio details


Product IDForm FactorDescription
NCS-5501(SE)1Base: 48x 1/10G SFP + 6x 40/100G QSFP

Scale : 40x 1/10G SFP + 4x 40/100G QSFP
NCS-55A1-36H(-SE)-S136x 40/100G QSFP
NCS-55A1-24H124x 40/100G QSFP
NCS-55A1-24Q6H-S124x 1/10G SFP + 24x 1/10/25G SFP
+ 6x 40/100G QSFP
NCS-55A1-48Q6H148x 1/10/25G SFP + 6x 40/100G QSFP
NCS-55A2-MOD224x 1/10G SFP + 16x 1/10/25G SFP
+ 2x 400G MPAs

MPA 4x 100G QSFP
MPA 2x 100/200G DWDM CFP2
MPA 2x 100G QSFP + 1x 100/200G DWDM CFP2
MPA 12x 1/10G SFP
NCS-57B1-6D24/5DSE1Base: 24x 100G QSFPDD + 6x400G QSFPDD

Scale:24x 100G QSFPDD + 5x400G QSFPDD
NCS-57C1-48Q6D-S132x SFP28 + 16x SFP56 +
2x QSFP-DD(4x100G) + 4x QSFP-DD (400G)
NCS-57C3-MOD(S)-SYS348x 1/10/25G + 8x or 4x port 40/100G +

2x400G or 4x 100G MPA
MPA 4x 100G QSFP
MPA 2x 100/200G DWDM CFP2
MPA 2x 100G QSFP + 1x 100/200G DWDM CFP2
MPA 12x 1/10G SFP
NCS-57D2-18DD-S266 Ports: 2x 400G QSFP-DD +

16x 400GQSFP-DD / 64x 100G QSFP-DD

Modular Line Cards

Product IDDescription
NC55-32T16Q4H-A32x1/10GE SFP/SFP+

16x10/25GE SFP+/SFP28

4x40/100GE QSFP+/QSFP28

NC55-MOD-A(-SE)-SFixed:12x1/10G SFP/SFP+2x40G QSFP+

2X MPA:2x400G or 12x50G
NC57-24DD24x400G QSFPDD
NC57-18DD-SE18x400G QSFPDD or 30x200/100G QSFPDD
NC57-36H6D-S24x100G + 12 flex ports (6x400GE or 12x200GE/100GE)
NC57-36H-SE36x100G QSFPDD
NC57-MOD-SFixed:2x400G QSFPDD+ 8x10/25/50G SFP56

2X MPA:2x400G or 12x50G

NCS5500/NCS5700 Capabilities to design the next generation Metro

Powered by Cisco IOS-XR, NCS5500/5700 has all the capabilities to design the next-gen metro. They provide cost structures and power efficiency in a fixed systems as well as flexibility of a modular system in terms of redundancy options, upgradability, higher radix, and interface mixing. Below are the top capabilities we think are needed to build a successful network.

Metro Network CapabilitiesSupport
High Speed TransportSupports 400G ZR/ZRP
Capability of dense 100G/400G in small 1RU form factors
Ability to support low speeds from 1G/10G/25G/40G along with 100G/200G/400G
Packet and Optical ConvergenceUnleash transformative operational efficiency with Cisco Routed optical Network -aka RON
Achieve Network efficiency and Service Profitability
Lower TCO with Simple Architecture
Network Slicing using Segment RoutingFull support for Segment Routing/SRv6 Features
Capability to impose 26 usids in a single pass
Support for Flex Algo/SRTE/Ti-LFA
MicroLoop Avoidance and SR-PM plus many more features
Service deployment using EVPN OverlaySupport for next-gen EVPN Features
EVPN IRB Anycast Gateway
EVPN Single home and Multihome
EVPN Single Active, Active-Active, Port-Active Capabilities
Network Security with Trustworth PlatformsBuilt-in hardware security along with software security in IOS-XR
Secure-boot with Cisco TAM chip
DDoS protection
Malware protection
Anti-Theft protection
Secure app-hosting environment
Network performance monitoring with rich set of IP-SLA features
Ability to terminate non-Ethernet portsTransparently transfer ODU/SONET/SDH/Eth/FC packets over PSN using PLE
Flexible Resource CarvingSupport for different MDB profiles to cater multiple use cases
Quality of ServiceRich ingress and egress QoS features
Support for Policing/Shaping/WFQ/WRED etc
Enhance QoS scale with Egress Traffic Manager implementation
MACsecLayer 2 security with full MACsec support
Class C timing support for low latency applications
TelemetrySupport for Model Driven as well as AI driven Telemetry
AutomationFlexible Automation with Cisco Crossworks Network Automation
ProgrammabilityDrive Network Automation with Using Programmable models
Support for Yang Models
Support for netconf and grpc protocols
Automation scripts
SustainabilityReduce environmental impacts with systems delivering lower power consumption and by integrating automation tools to reduce manual and onsite operation
Cisco Sustainability Report


Going forward the challenge for CSPs will not just be to deliver services, but also to deliver experience. With metro network as the center of gravity along edge/cloud convergence combined with the broadband, it is crucial for the CSPs to seriously invest in upgrading their network. CSPs need to think not only about delivering the experience but also about ways to monetize it. Cisco is committed to be a trusted partner for the same and is equipped with the capabilities to help CSPs build a simple, scalable, programmable and sustainable network.


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