Just noticed that Cisco has announced a new higher-end GSR, the 12800. For those not familiar with Cisco, this is their high-end superrouter, with a price tag to match. According to Network World, Cisco wants $178k for the router itself (it's unclear if this is just the chassis, or if it includes the processor card), $405k for the new 2x OC-192 card, and $468k for the 8x OC-48 card.

Zing! Choice: one supercar, or one Cisco line card.

It's been a while since I've been involved with GSRs, but we were always running into weird limitations with them at Internap--things that worked perfectly fine on 7500s and Catalyst 6500s, but ate the CPU on the GSR. I don't know if they've fixed things in the newer models or not, but at the time, the Catalyst 6500 series of switches (now also the 7600 router series) was usually substantially faster for 1/3 the money. That's kind of how Cisco has worked, historically--they acquire companies and never really merge them, and they keep competing with each other internally, which leaves Cisco with a bizarre product lineup. At least they (mostly) run the same software these days.

For a fun exercise some time, take a look at Cisco's product lineup and see how many card form-factors they have to support--there's at least VIC/WIC cards for the [123]6xx models, NM cards or [23]6xx models, PA cards for 7[1245]xx models, CX cards for 75xx models (mostly gone), something weird for the 7300 (which looks like it'll end up as a PA line eventually), then cards for the Catalyst 4xxx switch family (which now runs IOS and routes), cards for the Catalyst 6xxx/7600 family, cards for the 12xxx/GSR family, plus whatever the 10000 and 11000 lines use. That doesn't even count things like PIXes, storage routers, ATM switches, and non-IOS hardware.

Their IOS software is, if anything, slightly worse. It's been in dire need of a complete re-write for most of a decade. It's very similar to the pre-OS X Apple story--they've tried and failed repeatedly. Right now, IOS is a router platform, a switch platform, a firewall platform, a SNA gateway platform, a telephony platform, a server platform, and they all interact in weird ways, and they all run on an outdated OS with a pile of technical shortcomings. It must cost them a huge amount of money just to keep the current IOS development process from collapsing.