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Cisco's Got A Brand New VPN Bag

Networking maven Cisco Systems, Inc. enhanced its Virtual Private Network (VPN) portfolio today with the addition of the Unified VPN Suite based on Layer 2 and Layer 3 VPN technologies for IP and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) backbone networks.

MPLS is an initiative set forth by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) that integrates Layer 2 information about network links into Layer 3 within a system. IETF is the main standards organization for the evolution of Internet architecture and operation.

The Unified VPN Suite adds to Cisco's range of VPN products that include VPN routers and firewalls and VPN solutions (site-to-site or remote access for mobile users) that use advanced encryption and tunneling to enable secure, private network connections over third-party networks such as the Internet or extranets.

The Unified VPN Suite provides support for existing Cisco VPNs along with integrated services for service providers and businesses.

In addition to supporting the largest common set of IP services, the suite includes new deployment capabilities and new protocols such as Any Transport over MPLS and Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol version 3 (L2TPv3), plus enhancements for integrating IP Security with MPLS.

Any Transport is based on Cisco's IETF Martini Draft that allows a service provider to maximize on an MPLS backbone for the transport of Layer 2 services. Layer 2 Tunneling uses an underlying L2TP standard and includes signaling enhancements, a new encapsulation header, and a protocol identifier to support transportation of multiple Layer 2 protocols.

According to Cisco, these features can save service providers a lot of time, money, and headaches.

"Service providers want to take advantage of their IP or MPLS backbones while expanding their Layer 2 access revenues," said Sangeeta Anand, senior director of Product Marketing for Cisco's Internet Technologies Division. "Cisco's VPN Suite enables them to expand their reach, introduce new IP offerings, and cost effectively transport existing access traffic over their packet backbones."

Deployment of the VPN Suite uses Cisco Easy VPN, a software enhancement based on Cisco's Unified Client Framework, for a consistent connection across Cisco routers and security appliances. With this feature, users can deploy any Cisco Easy VPN-enabled device within a common VPN framework. For remote connections, the deployment software enables Cisco routers and security features to automatically establish and maintain a VPN tunnel without a complex configuration process.

The Unified VPN Suite is available in Cisco IOS software releases 12.0S and 12.2T and platforms ranging from the Cisco 880 access routers to Cisco's 12000 Internet routers.