LeaseWeb Upgrades CRS-1 Routers

Stephen Yagielowicz
AMSTERDAM — LeaseWeb has announced the addition of two new modules to the two Cisco CRS-1 routers in the backbone of its global hosting network, at a cost of $790,000.

LeaseWeb is one of Europe's largest hosting providers, boasting clients such as Wikipedia, Starbucks and Heineken.

The two Cisco CRS-1 units — non-stop devices with a basic purchase value of 1.6 million euros — are a crucial element in LeaseWeb' global hosting network. They link the four data centers in LeaseWeb's network with telecom carriers and a multitude of Internet exchanges, including LINX (London), DE-CIX (Frankfurt), AMS-IX (Amsterdam) and NYIIX (New York). LeaseWeb specifically uses two Cisco CRS-1 units because they provide the best guarantee for uptime in the hosting network.

The modular design of the Cisco CRS-1 units allows for easy expansion of the backbone of LeaseWeb's hosting network.

"They are plates of approximately 70 by 70 centimeters that can be slid vertically into the CRS-1 chassis," says Bastiaan Spandaw, LeaseWeb's network architect. "These Modular Services Cards (MSC) and related Physical Layer Interface Modules (PLIM) allow us to create a large amount of additional port capacity in our network, external connections with telecom carriers and Internet exchanges as well as internal connections through various Cisco Catalyst 6500 switches with customers' equipment."

Although LeaseWeb has chosen to use 10-Gigabit Ethernet connections for the added modules, it hopes to be able to use 100-Gigabit Ethernet modules for future expansion of the CRS-1 units.

"Due to the rapid growth of our network, we really need those 100-Gigabit Ethernet connections," Spandaw said. "I understand that Cisco is planning to introduce these new modules in Q1 or Q2 of 2010. This will make it easier for us to further upscale our backbone capacity."

The current expansion of the backbone in LeaseWeb's global hosting network was necessary due to the rapid growth in bandwidth usage by LeaseWeb customers.

"In April 2009, our customers used 300 Gigabits per second," says Rolph Haspers, Operations Director of LeaseWeb. "And in November 2009, bandwidth usage had increased to even more than 500 Gbps. In view of our policy of maintaining double the amount of bandwidth that customers actually use, this requires significant, easily scalable capacity in our network."

The rapid growth in bandwidth usage is due to existing as well as a large number of new customers.

"Many of our customers are resellers such as webhosting providers, system integrators, web designers, and application developers. These customers each have several customers of their own, which can really accelerate bandwidth growth per LeaseWeb customer," Haspers added. "In addition, we notice that the amount of bandwidth in our network automatically attracts new customers who find this very useful for purposes such as streaming. This has a flywheel effect in the growth of our Internet traffic."

The CRS-1 is the fastest product supplied by Cisco. LeaseWeb's CRS-1 units are geographically separated, being installed in two different data centers. According to the company, they are large, heavy machines.

The CRS-1 units and related network design by LeaseWeb allow the company to handle the current strong growth in Internet traffic.

"The hierarchic, scalable and redundant design of LeaseWeb's network is partly due to the CRS-1 units," Haspers concluded. "This assures our customers of enormous, stable growth possibilities in bandwidth capacity over the coming years."