Networking equipment was traditionally categorized as either a Switch or a router. Switches bridged (transmitted) L2/Ethernet traffic, and a router forwarded (transmitted and routed) L3/IP traffic. As products became more sophisticated, the distinction between a switch and a router became blurred as high-end switches began to route traffic in addition to bridging, and likewise routers began to perform L2 switching. At the same time, the enterprise market was diverging from the service provider market. Though still maintaining the terms switch and router in their product names, Cisco divided their high-end networking products by market. However, many enterprise customers chose equipment Cisco categorized under the banner of Service Provider, and vice versa.
Prior to the ASR9000 series, Cisco's high-end SP product portfolio consisted of the CRS-1, the GSR, and the 7600 (and the 6500). The ASR9000 series devices is the successor to both the GSR and the 7600. When the CRS-1 is deployed in a large network at the core, the ASR9000 complements it on the edge; both run IOS-XR. In 2011, Cisco announced capacity upgrades and support of network Virtualization (nV) capabilities for the ASR9000. In 2011, the ASR9000 was awarded "Best Carrier Ethernet Aggregation Product" at the Carrier Ethernet World Congress.