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Cisco Announces Borderless Networks

The foot soldiers of networking -- routers, 7 million strong -- have officially been promoted by Cisco, which Tuesday unveiled its router-based Borderless Network architecture, complete with advanced video and collaboration features.

The networking firm also announced the second generation of its Integrated Services Router, the ISR G2.

Taken together, the Borderless Networks architecture and the ISR G2 form a sort of central nervous system network that simplifies the delivery of networked business services throughout IT organizations, large and small. Cisco said a five-phased plan will help "deliver services and applications to anyone, anywhere, on any device, at anytime -- seamlessly, reliably, and securely."

After five years of dominating the router market with an estimated 85% market share by shipping an estimated 7 million routers, the networking world was beginning to wonder if all the growing disparate pieces could be tied together coherently. That appears to be Cisco's goal and the company is paying more than lip service to the breaking waves of collaboration and video that -- ready or not -- are sweeping into U.S. businesses.

Building on its 25-year router history, the ISR G2 has as much as five times the performance of its pioneering Cisco ISR, the workhorse router first sold in 2004. The ISR G2 features video-ready architecture and new video digital video signal processors aimed at taking advantage of the exploding surge of video and teleconferencing in business. Cisco noted that recent market research has found that business video adoption is expected to grow to 77.6% by 2012.

Cisco already has a strong position in the telepresence sector and the firm has moved to increase its video offerings in a move to acquire Tandberg, another video pacesetter, for $3 billion.

In an effort to capitalize on the growing importance of more tightly linking remote offices, the Borderless Networks architecture decouples hardware and software, thereby making it possible for virtual services to be remotely deployed and managed. Remote locations can receive services without costly onsite support. To help make this happen, an ISR G2 Services Module with up to 1 terabyte of on-board storage is available. Cisco indicated the module can be useful for video surveillance deployments.

"Building on Cisco's branch office heritage," said Cisco's Richard Palmer in a statement, "(ISR G2) delivers a borderless network experience through service virtualization, new video-ready capabilities and operational excellence." Palmer, who is senior vice president for Cisco's Access Routing Group, noted that secure collaboration across time zones and devices utilizing rich-media services is becoming increasingly important as businesses seek to increase employee productivity.

Observing that the Borderless Network architecture delivers Cisco's EnergyWise power efficient feature, the firm said branch offices, too, can save energy costs through the new offering.

The ISR G2 portfolio covers the bases from low-end local-network capability to the high-end full-featured 3900 Series router, which scales through the integration of security, switching, unified communications, video, wireless, WAN optimization and application services. The midrange 2900 Series Router provides many of the features of the 3900 Router with a lower price point. The 1900 Series Router has 802.11n wireless capability in a desktop form factor. A new Cisco IOS Software Release 15 is also offered.

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