Cisco�s intention is to decouple IOS software from the hardware it sells, which could let users add enhancements such as security or VoIP more quickly, without having to reinstall IOS images on routers and switches. The vendor also plans to virtualize many of its network services and applications, which currently are tied to hardware-specific modules or appliances.
This shift would make network gear operate more like a virtualized server, running multiple operating systems and applications on top of a VMware-like layer, as opposed to a router with a closed operating system, in which applications are run on hardware-based blades and modules. Ultimately, these changes will make it less expensive to deploy and manage services that run on top of IP networks, such as security, VoIP and management features, Cisco says.
�The way we�ve sold software in the past is we�ve bolted it onto a piece of hardware, and we shipped [customers] the hardware,� Metzler said. �We need more flexibility to allow customers to purchase software and to deploy it according to their terms.�
IOS upgrades require a reinstall of the new software image on the router or switch � which causes downtime � or, �we say, not a problem, UPS will arrive soon, here�s another blade� to run your new service or application, Metzler said. �This adds months to the deployment cycle, which is not good for customers or Cisco�s business.�