RealTime IT News

Cisco Sweet On Network Convergence

Cisco Systems, Inc. made some significant additions to its product portfolio Tuesday in the area of broadband aggregation, Internet Protocol (IP) communications products for converged network infrastructure, and by expanding the selection of 10Gbps interfaces for its 12000 series of Internet routers.

Cisco also teamed with Toronto-based Bell Canada to provide Converged Desktop technology for added IP telephony products and services to Bell Managed Solutions customers. According to Cisco, the 'Converged Desktop' eliminates the need to maintain separate voice and data networks and exploits the flexibility of Internet Protocol to support multimedia applications such as unified messaging.

Owned by BCE of Montreal and SBC Communications, Bell Canada is one of the regions largest providers of wired and wireless voice and data communications, high speed Internet access, and IP-broadband services.

"Network convergence has emerged as a powerful trend in Canada, with more than 50 percent of Canadian businesses expected to move from traditional PBX telephone technology to IP or network-based telephony communications within the next three years," said Dan McLean, senior analyst, IDC Canada. "IDC research also indicates that over 40 percent of medium and large enterprises in Canada want to outsource the implementation of IP telephony solutions and lease the technology from a service provider."

Cisco's expansion of its broadband aggregation portfolio, using Cisco's Parallel Express Forwarding (PXF) network processor, includes the addition of new broadband capabilities for the Cisco 7200, 7400 and 10000 Series Internet Routers, which will enable service providers to use edge routers for both leased-line and broadband aggregation.

Cisco's portfolio additions are intended to offer service providers with a wider range of broadband aggregation options for performance, density, form factor, and price.

Cisco's new router applications include Dynamic Bandwidth Selection which allows users to independently "turbo charge" their broadband connections for high-bandwidth applications like video-on-demand, and the Service Selection Gateway, which enables carriers to provide customized and branded portals for end users for access to services, movies, or games.

For network security, Cisco will market its Per User Network-based Firewall alongside its expanded portfolio, that gives home users or businesses the option of determining what levels of firewall protection are needed at any given time.

"With this announcement Cisco provides the industry's broadest portfolio of reliable, scalable and feature-rich edge platforms," said Prem Jain, senior, vice president of Cisco's network edge aggregation and routing group. "Service providers can now choose among four highly scalable broadband edge platforms to design a customized edge network."

Cisco also went to market with a new selection of IP software, hardware, and packaged voice solutions designed to provide business customers with the interoperability and flexibility required to deploy converged IP-based communications infrastructures.

Cisco's new IP software enhancements include the Cisco Unity Bridge 2.0, which lets organizations access and manage voice and email from one location using the device of choice; Cisco Customer Response Solutions 3.0 platform, a single server platform that improves customer response for small to mid-sized contact center organizations; and the Cisco CallManager Attendant Console that replaces the traditional PBX manual attendant console and allows a receptionist or enterprise operator to quickly answer, greet, and dispatch telephone callers without operator intervention.

On the hardware side, Cisco will market the Cisco Media Convergence Server (MCS) 7815-1000, an IP communications solution that runs on enterprise networks; the Cisco MCS 7825-1133, and the Cisco MCS 7835-1266.

Cisco is also releasing two packaged voice solutions based on the Integrated Communications System (ICS) 7750, which are targeted at smaller locations.

"Companies considering the purchase of a new communications system want the assurance that they are making an investment that will last and one that will yield a positive return," said Elizabeth Ussher, vice president of convergence for the META Group. "Companies also want the flexibility to implement a converged IP communications system immediately, or migrate at their own pace, with interoperability between their new IP-based components and their current PBX systems. Packaged solutions and productivity enhancements encourage flexibility and choice for businesses of all sizes."

All new additions to Cisco's product line are available today, with the exception of the Cisco Customer Response Solutions 3.0 platform, which is slated for release in the third quarter of 2002.