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Cisco Debuts Multiple Server Technology for ISPs

Cisco Systems Inc. Monday announced a new way for Internet service providers to track the usage patterns of their customers.

The ISPs can then use this data to control costs, decide whether they can cost-effectively expand their services and to create new revenue opportunities.

The technology, known as distributed session management protocol, or DSMP, communicates user and group session information between distributed access control servers while using data sampling techniques to minimize the consumption of network bandwidth. It is available as an optional add-on module for the CiscoSecure Access Control Server (ACS) 2.3 for UNIX.

CiscoSecure ACS 2.3 for UNIX is a full-function access control server which offers authentication, authorization and accounting for large enterprise networks and network service providers. It is able to support both RADIUS and TACACS+ protocols, features additional support for external relational database management systems and has a Web-based graphical user interface.

Using DSMP, service providers can deploy high-demand, revenue-generating services, such as a virtual private dial network and maintain service level for all customers. By tracking how many users are simultaneously dialing in from various points of presence (POPs), DSMP enables service providers to ensure they have enough infrastructure to serve their customer base.

DSMP also allows service providers to conserve costly resources, such as modems, lines and bandwidth. By maintaining session status across their networks, service providers can monitor usage of services and ensure that customers have access to only the services they have purchased, without user account duplication.

DSMP provides such support by limiting the number of concurrent sessions available to a specific user group and the systems administrator can monitor and reset states.

DSMP uses a session reservation function to maintain accurate session counts on all servers without significant network bandwidth usage or latency. A data sampling algorithm automatically determines the optimal access method necessary to gain the highest DSMP performance. DSMP also uses standard database replication of Oracle and Sybase relational database management systems, which allows customers to maximize investments in reliable, robust and well-documented database technologies.

"DSMP technology presents many new revenue opportunities for service providers that take advantage of it to expand their value-added service offerings and appeal to a wider market," said David Gudmundson, vice president and general manager of Cisco's DSL and systems software unit.

"By introducing this technology to the industry, Cisco furthers its commitment to helping service providers build scalable and profitable networks."

CiscoSecure ACS 2.3 UNIX with DSM is now available from Cisco Systems, with a list price of $25,500 per server. The DSM feature is offered as an add-on for $23,500 per server. CiscoSecure ACS 2.3 UNIX is also available without DSM for $3,000. Cisco plans to offer DSM capability for other access control products in the future.