Cisco Adds Security, Service Flexibility In Enterprise Routers

Cisco is hoping to make secure concurrent service operation a reality in smaller businesses, remote offices and home offices.

September 13, 2004

2 Min Read
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WAYNE, N.J. " Cisco is bringing higher layers of security and more flexibility at the services layer with the release this week of three families of routers for small- to medium-sized business (SMB) and branch-office applications.

While it's not uncommon for large corporate networks to support secure concurrent services, the same cannot be said at the SMB/branch office level. To support concurrent secure services in these settings, companies most likely would need to combine multiple boxes in their enterprise networks, which may become a costly option.

By integrating security on the motherboard and delivering a flexible DSP architecture, Cisco is hoping to make secure concurrent service operation a reality in smaller businesses, remote offices and home offices with the development of its 3800, 2800 and 1800 series of routers.

"With our new routers, we can bring concurrent services to the masses," said Jeanne Dunn, senior director of product marketing at Cisco. "We're also making sure our customers have room to grow," Dunn added.

While Cisco is still relying on software to bring security to its 1800 router family, which is targeted at low-end applications, the company has opted for the integration of an off-the-shelf coprocessor to bring security to larger SMB and branch office applications. As Senior Director of Marketing Dan Frampton pointed out, Cisco will also provide optional modules for its routers that will allow customers to perform more detailed security tasks.For example, Frampton said Cisco has developed software for handling basic intrusion detection and intrusion prevention tasks. But, in cases where users want to handle more signatures, Cisco has also crafted optional modules that can provide enhanced intrusion detection/prevention capabilities.

In addition to providing enhanced security modules, Cisco is looking to bring flexibility and future growth capabilities to its routers for handling voice-over-IP and other multimedia tasks. Specifically, the company has included four slots in its 3800 family and either two or three slots in its 2800 family that customers can tap to add additional signal processing capabilities to their router designs.

The three routers are developed around an off-the-shelf MIPS CPU that talks to other system components through a bridging ASIC developed in house at Cisco. As Frampton said, the ASIC allows the system to exchange information between elements on the board while still maintaining wire-rate performance.

The 3800 family of routers is designed for branch office applications. This router family includes either two or three slots for adding modules like an intrusion detection module, a 2U or 3U form factor, hot-swap modules and power supplies and support for up to T3/E3 rates.

The 2800 family is aimed at branch offices looking to offer integrated services on their router platforms. The routers feature up to one slow for optional modules, Fast Ethernet or Gigabit Ethernet LAN interfaces and either a 1U to 2U form factor.The 1800 family are targeted at SMB and SoHo applications. Encryption, firewall and other security capabilities are supported in software in the desktop routing platform.

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