The latest full point release of Cisco Systems Canada Co.’s Internetwork Operating System, IOS 12.0, is less a technological step forward than it is a smoother integration of IOS 11.0 enhancements, according to one analyst.
“When I talked to the people at Cisco a while ago, they said this was really just going to be an integration, re-engineering, rough-out-the-edges kind of release, rather than something that by and of itself amounts to technical breakthroughs in functionality,” said Sam Alunni, an analyst with consultancy Sterling Research in Sterling, Mass.
The most significant features of IOS 12.0, according to Derick Linegar, a systems engineer with Cisco Canada in Toronto, are its QoS and voice enhancements.
“There were earlier deployment releases for those features and now we’ve included them in a mainline release,” he said.
IOS 12.0 allows users to send voice over IP, voice over frame relay and voice over ATM.
This is a key feature, Linegar said, because more and more enterprises are expressing interest in porting at least some of their traditional voice traffic onto their data networks.
“What businesses are facing today from a budget perspective is major pressure,” he said. “IT spending is pretty flat for most customers, but the demand for networking on the data and voice side is quite high. What businesses are saying is, ‘If I can get the two networks down to one and still use the same spending, I can get more for my money.'”
The first step for most enterprises, Linegar said, is to begin using their data networks for fax relay as opposed to sending faxes over a toll-based network. From there, the businesses can move to providing inter-branch office voice services on their data networks.
Voice is also one of the main drivers for the QoS enhancements included in IOS 12.0, Linegar said. The integrated QoS features allow network managers to prioritize traffic into different classes of service.
The QoS package includes an IP plus ATM toolkit, Linegar noted, so managers of mixed IP and ATM networks can get class of service capabilities via Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS).
“Basically, this allows our customers to make a decision based not on technology, but on the feature sets the software produces,” Linegar said.
In addition to the QoS and voice enhancements, IOS 12.0 has better scalability and security, Linegar said.
IOS 12.0 (www.cisco.com/warp/public/732/120/) is available now. Users subscribing to Cisco’s SMARTnet subscription program can be updated free of charge.
Cisco Systems Canada in Toronto can be reached at (416) 246-8000.