One of the announcements at CiscoLive was the Cisco ENCS5000 NFV platform. ENCS5000 is effectively Cisco’s branch-in-a-box device for running a virtualised routing, security and NFV platform. It uses the virtualised functions from the UCS-E platform offering an alternate way of supporting this in a branch site. “Industrialised” styling is used on the ENCS5000 removing the plastic front-panels to reduce cost while making the styling “cleaner”. The colour is the off-white that Cisco now favours instead of the dark blue.
The platform runs the Cisco NFVIS (Network Function Virtualisation Infrastructure Software). NFVIS is based on the KVM hypervisor running CentOS 7.1. Additional Cisco glue provides API control, although a device web portal for management is available.
It will execute the various Cisco NFV functions already released (i.e. ISRv, vWAAS – virtual Wide-Area Application Services, ASAv – virtualised Adaptive Security Appliance, and vWLC – virtualised Wireless LAN Controller). Targeted at providing a single platform for running all the computer and network infrastructure on a site. The box offers the capability for site DNS/DHCP, print servers and so forth. These latter items will be from other parts of the NFV eco-system, not Cisco.
There are three models, comprising the ENCS5406, ENCS5408 and ENCS5412, Onboard representing the number of 6, 8 or 12 cores within the Intel Xeon processor used in the device. The model numbering implies the platform extends later, perhaps with future processors. Memory and storage have flexible upgrade options. With RAM of 16 to 64GB, the platform will support plenty of virtual guests. Flash storage of 64GB is the default, with 200GB or 400GB being options, all using an M.2 interface. Finally, two hot-swappable 2TB hard disks deliver data storage. The underlying platform allows you to run a decent vWAAS enabled iWAN platform, potentially including a local virtualised Wireless LAN Controller.
Onboard connections include 8-gigabit ethernet ports for LAN side connections, management ports for both the device itself and the built-in BMC, and both copper and SFP ports for two-gigabit ports that could be traditional WAN and DMZ.
The ENCS5000 supports the same Network Interface Modules (NIMs) used in the Cisco ISR4000 series router, providing access to LTE and other WAN connections. The NIM limits choices of NFV routing to the ISRv because it is the only option that supports the NIM.
The Data Sheet for the Cisco ENCS5000 NFV platform is available on Cisco’s website.
Update: 23 March 2017 Add a video recorded in Berlin at CiscoLive 2017, demonstrating the ENCS5400 platform.
Update: 28 August 2017 See Cisco extends ENCS platform with low-end ENCS5104 for details on the first of Cisco’s platform extensions.