Cisco enhances midrange, access routers

A series of enhancements announced April 30 for Cisco Systems Inc. midrange and access routers should help enterprises and service providers set up more advanced services on their networks.

Cisco introduced 14 new access routers, including a new family of devices, designed in part to help branch and remote offices take advantage of security, high network availability and priority for the most important and sensitive applications they use.

The networking giant also rolled out a set of interfaces and performance-enhancing features for models in its 7000 series of routers that are deployed at the edge of enterprise and service-provider networks. Among those enhancements is software that lets carriers bring together the services enterprise customers are already using with the benefits of an IP core network that uses MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) for giving different kinds of traffic the treatment they need.

The access products were the most urgently needed, according to analyst Ray Mota of Synergy Research Group Inc., in Phoenix.

“They’re addressing a current need that’s out there, and that’s the whole issue of security,” Mota said. In the past, some Cisco products have offered features such as VPN (virtual private network) capability and IPSec (IP Security) encryption but have forced customers to choose between enabling those features and achieving optimal performance, he said. The enhancements announced Tuesday make that trade-off unnecessary.

As a result, companies in many cases won’t have to deploy a separate box for security functions just to keep their routers free to perform at top speed. As the new Cisco models are priced similarly to its existing offerings, that could mean capital expenditure savings as well as a simpler network, Mota said.

The newly introduced Cisco 3700 series routers are designed to allow enterprises to combine in one box wide-area network routing, low-density switching, IP telephony and a voice gateway for linking traditional phone systems with a data network, according to Dave Frampton, senior director of product management at Cisco. Cisco’s IP phones can be plugged into switch ports on the devices, and a power supply can be included in the box that will power the phones through the network cable, removing the need for a separate power cord. The line includes the 3725, which is 2U (3.5 inches or 8.9 centimetres) high and the 3745, which is 3U (5.25 inches or 13.3 centimetres) high and can accommodate more modules.

Also introduced April 30 were an interface module for the 3600 and 3700 Series routers, new members of Cisco’s 2600 and 1700 access router lines and three new broadband routers for small and remote offices. All the access products announced will ship by the end of May, Frampton said.

Hardware and software enhancements to the 7000 Series routers are designed to let enterprises and service providers boost performance and to offer more advanced services such as QoS (quality of service), security and high network availability. They include availability of Cisco’s AToM (Any Transport over MPLS) technology, which lets carriers converge multiple transport technologies such as Frame Relay and ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) on to an IP MPLS core. This can lower service providers’ costs and enable them to take advantage of new services being created for IP networks, said Glenn Graham, manager of outbound marketing for Cisco’s midrange routing business unit.

The company announced enhancements to the Cisco 7300 and 7600 Series routers that will ship by the end of May and new offerings for the Cisco 7500 Series that will be out by the end of June.