Cisco Systems Inc.'s massive Internetwork Operating System (IOS) software, the operating system that runs most routers on the Internet, will be sliced into bite-size modules in a future version that should make it easier for IT managers to update their networks, Cisco said.
The leading router maker in late December released Version 12.0 of IOS, integrating significant new capabilities but leaving out what one user said was the most important promised change.
"It's supposed to be modular so you can install it one module at a time," said Ramin Farassat, a network services manager at Roche Bioscience, in Palo Alto, California. A modular IOS would make it easier to upgrade hardware and software on Roche's global WAN, he added.
Flexibility may be critical for Cisco's software base as the company and its customers venture into a world of Layer 3 switching and broad-ranging network services.
One Cisco official said in December that the company plans to make IOS fully modular in a forthcoming release, but added that the version number and date of availability of the modular functionality have not yet been established.
IOS 12.0 integrates features for security, guaranteed quality of service, and high-speed routing. The new release also includes Cisco's Tag Switching technology for faster WAN routing, Cisco Express Forwarding to off-load router processing, and a Cisco protocol to help Web cache engines work with edge routers.
Other features enable enterprises to classify some types of traffic ahead of others to ensure high throughput. They will allow seamless delivery of voice, video, and data over IP, ATM, and frame-relay networks, according to officials at Cisco.
Farassat said most hardware upgrades, and even software patches, to his company's routers require reloading all of IOS and rebooting the router.
"You usually get forced to go to a later release, not because you want to or you need the features, but because of the adapters you're installing," Farassat said. Across Roche's global WAN, that process can be gruelling, he added