The Disaggregation of Cisco IOS and Juniper Junos Operating Systems from their Hardware!

We have been hearing rumblings for the last year that Cisco wants to become known as a software company, which means they would unbundle their Operating System sale from the hardware sale.

This would obviously be good news for maintaining the hardware since the only real reason to buy a Cisco SMARTnet contract is for the software support.

While a lot of Cisco and Juniper Models have free operating system updates available outside the manufacturer’s maintenance contract, a fact that is not something they advertise, but documents are available within their website, for a number of models the OEM contract is required to access the updates.

If you can buy the operating system and annual support separate from the hardware, that would provide dramatic annuals savings as Third Party Maintenance companies can offer it for much less.

But why would Cisco and Juniper Disaggregate their OS? The answer is NOT that they realize they are breaking anti-trust bundling and tying laws, which they probably are. You see, bundling and tying is an anti-trust violation. The answer for Dissagretation is that competition from their customers has finally crept in.

In 2014, SDX Central reported Verizon Reportedly Starting Trials with White Box Switching (by Craig Matsumoto is managing editor at “Verizon will use a combination of software from Cumulus, Pica8, and Juniper, with Juniper contributing “routing and switching technology that helps tie the network together with VXLAN technology,” Raynovich reports.

Soon after Juniper launched a press release at NXTWORK 2015 through Business Wire: Juniper Networks Introduces Junos Software Disaggregation to Dramatically Expand Customer Choice and Network Automation.

Then on March 25, 2018, AT&T Announced: AT&T is Deploying White Box Hardware in Cell Towers to Power Mobile 5G Era. Over 60,000 White Box Routers Will Be Installed Over the Next Several Years, Enabling New Customer Experiences at Lower Cost.

Taking 60,000 boxes away from Cisco is a big deal! What do you think happened next?

You guessed it! March 27, 2018, Yes – Cisco IOS XR Is Disaggregated! (Yvette Kanouff, Cisco Blogs).

Sumeet Arora Blogging on then explained: An Architectural Approach to Flexible Consumption for Service Providers with IOS XR.

Cisco then goes on to explain in an ongoing series of technical blogs about Enabling IOS-XR on Third-Party Network Hardwarewritten by Akshat Sharma, Technical Marketing Engineer, Cisco.

Prelude: In December 2017, within a month of Facebook’s open-source announcement of Open/R, we released an integration of Open/R with IOS-XR. With the model-driven Service Layer APIs and application hosting capabilities, IOS-XR provided a pretty easy ride. The code for this integration is on Github ( and is going through iterations and reviews before a pull request is sent out to the core code at Video Explanation – XR’s journey to the web: Open/R integration with XR.

Cisco IOS-XR running on OCP compliant hardware: The bloggoes on to give an excellent narrative of how this works (video too).

What’s next? Verizon, AT&T, Amazon, Facebook, and others are changing the Enterprise IT Landscape with Open Source Data Center Hardware.

At XSi, we are hoping one day soon that all Operating System will be Disaggregated from hardware. This will pave the way for us to maintain even more models!

About The Author

Todd founded XS International in 1990, helping to build an independent IT support organization led by pioneering executives with proven tenures at Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks. He holds a board of director positions with the world’s two most prominent associations for independent IT support providers – Service Industry Association (SIA) and ASCDI (hardware resellers). He was a founding member of the Digital Right to Repair Coalition (now known as, and continues to serve on their Board of Directors. As a hobby, he also co-founded VinoApp, specifically for Argentine wines. Very much a serial entrepreneur, Todd earned his Bachelor’s in Finance from Ohio State University and later completed a three-year Entrepreneurial Masters Program, given by the Entrepreneurs’ Organization & MIT Enterprise Forum. He now resides in the greater Dallas area with his family.
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