For networking giant Cisco, the router is more than just a
connectivity appliance. It’s a platform by which a wide range of networking
services, including security, VoIP and acceleration, can be served.
That is the promise of Cisco’s integrated services router (ISR) product line,
which was originally launched three years ago and has shipped over 3 million
units. Cisco is now updating its ISR portfolio with the Cisco 1861 ISR and
new security and performance routing modules for the ISR platform.
The 1861 for all-in-one secure routing.
Cisco is also rolling out a new Catalyst 2960 Series Switches
with a new light version of Cisco’s IOS networking operating system.
“By integrating services into the ISR form factor we’re lowering the
barriers to entry for capabilities adoption even in a small branch,” Inbar
Lasser-Raab, director of network systems, told InternetNews.com. “They
[customers] may not be able to afford a full-fledged security appliance, but
they can afford those capabilities integrated into the router.”
But the 1861 ISR is not a fully modular appliance in that Cisco is
selling it to end users in a series of fixed configurations. It’s an all-in-one unified communications solution that is combined with a secure routing platform. Though not quite what Lasser-Raab considers to be entry level, the 1861 is geared toward smaller branch offices with up to eight users.
Lasser-Raab explained that the existing ISR 800 and 1800 devices are fixed
platforms that come with integrated security, but they did not come with
Cisco’s unified communication system that includes voice functionality. The
first entry point that Cisco previously had for voice on the ISR was with
support for 24 phones, but Cisco found that there was demand for smaller eight-person branches, as well.
On the modular side of the ISR product family Cisco is adding a number of
new modules, including an integrated IPS
Lasser-Raab said that, though Cisco IOS network operating system already
includes support for IPS, the IPS module provides greater performance and
functionality for the ISR with support for over 2200 IDS
(intrusion detection system) signatures.
Cisco is also adding a Performance Routing (PfR) and High-End Cisco Wide
Area Application Services (WAAS) Network Module. The module provides WAN and
application acceleration capabilities to the modular ISRs.
The 2960 Catalyst switch.
Earlier this month, Cisco introduced a NAC module for the ISRs that provides integrated network access control
In addition to the ISR updates, Cisco is also updating its 2960 Catalyst
switches, which are also geared toward the smaller branch office. The new
switches use a stripped-down version of Cisco IOS called LAN Lite Cisco IOS
Software. Lasser-Raab explained that the Lite version has a subset of the
full IOS capabilities but is still a fully managed secure switch that gives
customers a lower price point.
“The reason why we’ve done it is to lower barriers to entry for customer
that want to go on a managed switch architecture solution that couldn’t
afford it before,” Lasser-Raab said.
Though Cisco continues to dominate much of the networking space, in recent
years it has faced some new challenges from other networking vendors like
Juniper Networks and Nortel among others. Lasser-Raab however is very
confident that Cisco has little to worry about from its competition.
“The scope of services, module and solutions that we have, no body has that
but Cisco,” Lasser-Raab boasted. “That scope is incomparable and is really
a high bar.”