News Release

"Backbone-in-a-Box" Router Networks Becoming Evolutionary Cul-de-Sacs, Cisco Executive Says

MENLO PARK, Calif., Aug. 9, 1993 -- High-speed network media
Aug 09, 1993

MENLO PARK, Calif., Aug. 9, 1993 -- High-speed network media such as FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface) and ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode), along with an increasing trend toward LAN segmentation, are rapidly obsoleting monolithic "backbone-in-a-box" router network architectures, according to Cisco Systems management.

"Our customers see high-speed, distributed backbone network architectures as the only viable way to scale their networks for future growth," said Larry Lang, head of ATM programs at Cisco. "Proof of this trend is the fact that Cisco has now shipped approximately 10,000 FDDI interfaces, which are used to create just such distributed networks, and which can be upgraded easily in the future to high-speed, routed ATM backbone networks.

"Our customers have come to recognize that very high-performance backbone-in-a-box, or collapsed-backbone, router topologies -- often deployed for what initially are sound reasons -- are essentially evolutionary cul-de-sacs that won't be able to keep pace with either technology or market trends," Lang added. "This is true in particular with developments in LAN microsegmentation and high-speed LAN media.

"Many new users today are still purchasing their initial high-end routers with this backbone-in-a-box network concept in mind, its comparative simplicity making this approach appealing. But as these users see their networks grow and change because of wiring or campus demands, they quickly migrate to a distributed backbone architecture. Their investment is protected only if the original routers can deliver equal performance in either configuration."

Microsegmentation is a trend that follows raw computer performance. As the power of the computers attached to a LAN, such as Ethernet, increases, user demand for more bandwidth also increases. This translates to a smaller number of users sharing each LAN segment; an Ethernet shared by 100 users today, for example, will likely be shared by only 10 or so in the future.

William Bard, director of the University of Texas System Office of Telecommunication Services, said, "Microsegmentation means that collapsed backbone topologies will become obsolete. There is no practical way to stay ahead of the LAN-connection curve in a single box of any kind. This means that the trend we see today of connecting multiple high-speed routers via FDDI will continue. As ATM LAN backbone technology matures, ATM will increasingly step into the role of media of choice to connect these distributed high-performance routers. It's happening today with FDDI. It will happen tomorrow with ATM." Bard oversees the Texas Higher Education Network (THEnet), which comprises more than 250 internetwork routers.

Cisco Systems, Inc. is the leading worldwide supplier of high-performance, multimedia and multiprotocol internetworking products, including routers, bridges, communication servers and router management software. Cisco technology is used to build enterprise-wide networks linking an unlimited number of geographically dispersed LANs and WANs, including IBM SNA networks. In the United States, Cisco is traded over the counter under the NASDAQ symbol CSCO.