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Small Biz Focus with Cisco Router, Switch Enhancements

While much of the attention recently has been on Ciscos Nexus router line, the company rolled out a number of enhancements to its legacy lines. Improvements were made to the companys Integrated Services Routers (ISR) and Catalyst 4500 and 6500 switches, so these products offer more network integration, are more energy efficient, and do a better job of supporting unified communications (UC) applications.Three new models were added to the ISR line. The ISR 880 VDSL2 and ISR 890 are targeted to small and medium businesses, and the ISR 861W, which supports IEEE 802.11g WLANs, is designed for integrated wired and wireless networks. The lines improved UC features consist of support for Cisco Unified SIP Proxy, which helps to reduce deployment costs; new voice signatures on the IP Security Network Module; and new mobility and video features with Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express. Also, the ISR's EtherSwitch Ethernet switching modules now support Ciscos EnergyWise power efficiency technology designed to decrease LAN energy utilization.

The Cisco Catalyst 4500 now works with Power-over-Ethernet Plus (PoEP), an extension to the PoE standard for video and wireless access point devices. The switchs new 48-port 10/100/1000 line card enables low voltage, 30-watt PoE support for devices, like videophones, dual-band wireless access points, building service devices, and video surveillance cameras. Cisco extended support of its location services problem detection service Smart Call Home as well as EnergyWise to the Catalyst 4500 line. For the Catalyst 6500, Cisco integrated a virtual switching system module and service module, which enables customers to deploy firewall, a network analysis module, and wireless services in their network cores.

The vendors focus recently has been its Nexus line, which is geared to large companies. Consequently, there has been some concern about how long the company will continue to enhance mature products, such as the ISR and Catalyst lines. While these products are clearly on the downside of their life cycles, it appears that Cisco is committed to enhancing them for at least a few more years. In sum, small and medium businesses can feel comfortable buying these products in the short term but may be cautious about making a long term commitment to them.