Tech Corner

How Cisco ASR 9000 Routers Meet the Needs of Large-Scale Networks

Cisco ASR 9000 Series Routers

The ever-increasing demand for low-latency, high bandwidth, and low-cost networks that support complex networking applications has led to the rapid enhancement and retooling of networking infrastructure to meet consumer demand.

However, as service providers rise to the challenge to meet the growing demand and increase profits, their networks are becoming even more complex with numerous devices and protocols. Also, with the imminent widespread use of 5G, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and 4K videos, service providers are being forced to revise their network infrastructure and make it more scalable, flexible, and efficient.

Therefore, network infrastructure providers are faced with the pressure of innovating new technologies that can help reduce network complexities and reduce operating costs, while, simultaneously, delivering services to consumers with increased agility.

In this article, we will discuss how the Cisco ASR 9000 routers can meet the requirements of complex, large-scale networks by providing an overview of the various features.

Cisco’s Feature-Rich, High-Performance Aggregation Services Routers

Cisco Aggregation Services Routers (ASRs) are high-performance routers that are mostly applied in high-bandwidth transmissions such as those involving video and audio (e.g., video conferencing). The Cisco ASR series is composed of the ASR 900 series, ASR 1000 series, and the newer option, ASR 9000 series.

If you're looking to configure the older ASR 1000 series or decide whether to go for an ASR or ISR series, view our articles below:

The ASR 900 and ASR 1000 series can only support edge routing while the ASR 9000 series is the more advanced of the three and can support both edge and core routing. Also, while ASR 900 and ASR 1000 run on the IOS XE operating system, ASR 9000 is equipped with the more powerful Cisco IOS XR operating system.

Modern networks need increased scalability and more features to meet the growing demand for network applications such as metro aggregation and internet peering/transit. Service providers are met with the need to constantly upgrade their infrastructure to better position themselves in the market. Cisco developed the ASR 9000 series to address the needs of service providers and their customers.

The Cisco ASR 9000 series routers have a converged Software-Defined Networking (SDN) architecture. They also support network virtualization, routed optical networking, internet peering/transit, and enhanced cloud features.

Cisco ASR 9000 Series Features and Benefits

Cisco ASR 9000 series offers the following main features, each of which will be discussed in more detail:

  • IOS XR Operating System
  • Network Virtualization
  • Routed Optical Networking
  • Network Peering/ Transit Support
  • Converged SDN Transport Architecture
  • Cloud-Scale Networking

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IOS XR Operating System

The ASR 9000 series incorporate the IOS XR, a powerful modern network operating system (OS). This operating system offers increased simplicity owing to its modularity and increases network reliability using its proactive network operation features. Also, it provides enhanced network security features.

Being a modular OS, most of the features exist independently. The operating system also delivers cloud-enhanced automation that can make a network more programmable, hence increasing operational efficiency and decreasing the total cost of ownership (TCO).

One of the biggest advantages of the incorporation of IOS XR is a simpler network design that needs fewer memory resources to operate and has a faster boot-up speed. Another great advantage is that the OS greatly reduces operational work in an organization, freeing your personnel to handle more tasks that generate revenue.

Network Virtualization

The demand for Ethernet services is continually growing and service providers need to adopt new mechanisms and technologies to increase their profits. Unfortunately, these service providers have incredibly complex networks due to the numerous devices and protocols that have been implemented.

This necessitates the use of a product like the ASR 9000 series routers that can consolidate complex systems. Cisco network virtualization, supported by the ASR 9000 series, aims to reduce network complexity by reducing the number of devices and the protocols in use. It allows the numerous standalone devices to work together and appear as a single virtual node.

With Cisco network virtualization, service providers can simplify their networks, reduce operation costs, ensure high availability, and improve network and service resilience.

Routed Optical Networking

Optical networking involves setting up various types of telecommunication networks to transmit information encoded as light signals through fiber optic cables. Cisco is at the forefront of assisting companies to migrate to routed optical networking solutions and it is doing so by ensuring that new devices in the market can support it.

Cisco ASR 9000 routers are equipped with the latest generation line cards that can fully support coherent optical transmission. Some of the benefits offered by coherent optics include a lower cost per bit rate, higher bit rate, and enhanced optical performance.

Network Peering/Transit Support

The greatest advantage of network peering is a faster throughput. The ASR 9000 routers can connect to different networks and allow them to transmit and receive information among them. The communication is governed by the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), whose stack in the ASR 9000 series is upgraded to further enhance the efficiency of the connection between the networks.

Network peering using ASR 9000 routers is also enhanced by the availability of the third-generation line cards with up to 100GE capacity that can handle the ever-increasing bandwidth demands.

Converged SDN Transport Architecture

Cisco ASR 9000 series routers have a converged SDN transport architecture. The transport architecture greatly enhances the agility of data transmission and the network’s scalability to support 5G and the new applications and services that come with it.

The converged SDN transport architecture utilizes two main technologies, namely, Ethernet Virtual Private Network (EVPN) and Segment Routing. With the help of these technologies, service providers can simplify their networks, increase the deployment speed of their services to customers, and enhance the flexibility and scalability of their networks.

Cloud-Scale Networking

Finally, one of the biggest benefits of the Cisco ASR 9000 routers is their increased cloud-scale capabilities. The cloud-scale features available in the ASR 9000 series include:

  • Scalable media transport
  • Application hosting
  • Ethernet VPN
  • Service chaining
  • Integrated DDoS
  • Timing support
  • Real-time telemetry
  • 5G scalable architecture
  • Analytics features
  • Geo-redundancy

All these features play a huge role in improving customer experience, accelerating time-to-market, and lowering the TCO.


If you're looking to utilize a Cisco router to implement dynamic routing protocols, be sure to check out our two-part series on OSPF configuration:

OSPF Configuration (Pt. 1) – The Basics and Single-Area Configuration

OSPF Configuration (Pt. 2) – Misc. Features and Multi-Area Configuration


Cisco ASR 9000 Series Specifications Comparison

The table below provides a brief overview of the some of the Cisco ASR 9000 models and their specifications for comparison purposes:

Cisco ASR Model

Line Card Slots Per Chassis

Bandwidth Per Slot

Maximum Capacity




2 Tbps

16 Tbps

1 per Route Switch Processor (RSP)



2 Tbps

32 Tbps

1 per RSP



4 Tbps

32 Tbps

6 + 1 redundant fabrics (2 located on the RSP, 5 on the dedicated switch fabric cards)



4 Tbps

64 Tbps

6 + 1 redundant fabrics (2 located on the RSP, 5 on the dedicated switch fabric cards)



4 Tbps

80 Tbps

6 + 1 redundant fabric cards



4 Tbps

160 Tbps

6 + 1 redundant fabric cards


Boost Your Network’s Performance Using Cisco ASR 9000 Routers

Cisco ASR 9000 series routers are loaded with numerous transformative advantages including:

  • Reduced network complexity
  • Lowered operational costs
  • Increased service agility
  • Enhanced optical performance
  • Improved security and network resilience against attacks that could lead to the delay in service delivery
  • Enhanced network programmability, among so many others.

Cisco offers 11 ASR 9000 models that you can choose from to reap the advantages mentioned above.

If you are still unsure whether the ASR 9000 is for you, send PivIT a request or connect with our Team in real-time using our chat feature. Know what you want but you need a hand configuring everything, view our Smart Hands offering.

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