Security, Manageability Drive Cisco Upgrades

Cisco Systems has introduced new products and
capabilities for its popular Catalyst switch line, many of
which dovetail with its self-defending network strategy.

“Gone are the days when you can put a firewall at the edge of the network
and keep the bad things out,” Steve Shalita,
Cisco’s senior manager of product marketing, said. “The risks are
everywhere.”

Among the new offerings is Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) snooping.
The technology can identify a rogue device that
comes onto the network and pretends it’s a server, redirecting traffic to overwhelm the system.

Also tied into the Catalyst family are: Dynamic Address Resolution Protocol,
which safeguards against “man-in-the-middle”
attacks where a hacker inserts, deletes or modifies message code flowing
between network users; and IP source guard, to prevent the theft and misuse
of IP addresses.

Finally, on the security front, Cisco is adding security layers to the
systems using the 802.1X wireless security standard.

In addition to security, Cisco also focused on improving manageability.
Smartports, which enable easy configuration of switch features, are now
available for the entire Catalyst line. They cut the amount of command line
programming needed to configure changes. A new Web-based
management tool was also unveiled for the Catalyst 6500 switch.

“To meet evolving business requirements, the enterprise network must be able
to support and manage advanced applications with greater simplicity,” Chris
Kozup, program director of technology research services at the META Group,
said in a statement.

Other improvements include: a 48-port SFP fiber-based gigabit Ethernet
module; a new 10-slot chassis and supervisor engine for the Catalyst 4500;
10 Gigabit Ethernet uplink capability for the Catalyst 3750; and new 10
Gigabit Ethernet XENPAK optics that support multi-mode fiber and copper
interfaces.

The products are available now or later this month, Shalita said.

Catalyst switches have been on the market since 1999 and are in their third
generation. Most of the new components are backward-compatible so users can
upgrade incrementally. Shalita said that’s part of their appeal, as IT
managers and enterprise customers scrutinize IT budgets.

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco has made a number of security announcements in
recent weeks, including the acquisition of Twingo Systems and the introduction of new hardware and software. Cisco competitors such as Juniper
Networks and 3Com are also making moves in the security space.

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