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Cisco Pads Its Stackable Switch Lineup

Networking equipment giant Cisco Systems unveiled several advances to its switching arsenal.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company said it is targeting the needs of mid-sized network edge systems with its new Cisco Catalyst 3550 and 2950 Series Intelligent Ethernet Switches and companion free downloadable software.

Using elements of SAFE, Cisco's security blueprint for AVVID (Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data), the company said the new switchers allow branch offices to keep secure while taking advantage of Internet business applications.

"To conduct business successfully, companies are striking a balance between sharing information among customers, partners, and employees while keeping confidential information and network assets secure," said Cisco Desktop Switching Business Unit Vice President and General Manager Kathy Hill. "With a strong base of security capabilities across the Cisco Catalyst switching portfolio, customers have a trusted foundation for delivering consistent security services throughout the network -- enabling greater control over critical information resources and allowing more effective policy management."

The switches both include Secure Shell (SSH) and SNMPv3 encrypt administrator traffic during telnet and Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) sessions for better protection against unauthorized access to password and configuration information.

There is also IEEE 802.1x authentication-based security, Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) Interface Tracker, a complete set of port-based, Virtual LAN-based, and router interface-based Access Control Lists (ACLs).

Deep inside in the Catalyst 3550 and 2950 Series, Cisco's Cluster Management Suite (CMS) Software lets users simultaneously configure and troubleshoot multiple Catalyst desktop switches using a standard Web browser.

Cisco also introduced a new Cisco Catalyst 3550 24-port switch for 100BaseFX multimode fiber environments and a new 1000BaseT Gigabit Interface Converter (GBIC).

The Catalyst 3550-24-FX-SMI is packed with 24 100BaseFX multimode fiber ports and 2 GBIC-based Gigabit Ethernet ports in a rack unit (RU) stackable form factor. The new 1000BaseT GBIC is compatible with most of Cisco modular and desktop switching products. And Cisco said the new GBIC can be used in Catalyst 3550 Series, 2950 Series, 3500 Series XL, 2900 Series XL, 4000 Series and 6500 Series switches today.

In addition, Cisco updated its Cisco Secure User Registration Tool (URT) with Web-based logon capabilities for the most commonly used client operating system platforms as well as authentication support for both lightweight directory access protocol (LDAP) and Remote Access Dial In User Service (RADIUS) directories such as Cisco Secure Access Control Server (ACS).

The security software enhancements for the Cisco Catalyst 3550 and 2950 Series of Intelligent Ethernet Switches are available free-of-charge for existing customers as a download The Catalyst 3550-24-FX-SMI and Cisco 1000BaseT GBIC are available for $5,495 and $395, respectively.