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Cisco brings multifunction router to the masses

Announced this morning at Interop, Cisco's new integrated services routers enable more organizations to afford routers offering services such as security and QoS at wire speed.

In a move that demonstrates the increasing convergence between corporate wired and wireless networking equipment, Cisco Systems Inc. is unveiling a new set of low-end integrated service routers and new capabilities for its high-end ISRs.

Today at Interop (formerly Networld+Interop) in Las Vegas, the San Jose, Calif.-based vendor is detailing its new fixed-configuration 800 series and 1800 series ISRs for enterprise branch offices and small businesses, plus Wi-Fi capabilities for the entire Cisco ISR portfolio.

The networking giant's ISR router series is designed to run simultaneous services such as data, security and quality of service (QoS) at wire speed in one integrated routing platform. The 800 and 1800 lines are intended to extend those capabilities to smaller organizations.

The new 1800 managed eight-port switch, intended for enterprise branch offices, offers virtual LAN (vLAN) capabilities and power over Ethernet (PoE). It has onboard security features such as a firewall, intrusion protection, VPN and Network Access Control (NAC). Plus with embedded hardware acceleration, it's between three and four times faster than the original 1841 modular ISR.

Integrated DSL modems are standard on the 1801, 1802 and 1803 models, while the 1811 and 1812 devices offer dual Ethernet with analog modem or ISDN backup for DSL, cable and metro Ethernet uplinks. It retails starting at $1,295.

Paulette Altmaier, vice president and general manager of Cisco's premises communications business unit, said the 1800 sports a second WAN uplink for redundancy. "That's important for application in the retail industry, for example, where they need to make sure credit card transactions go through," Altmaier said.

The 800, designed for use in small offices and teleworking environments, is split into two categories. The 870 set is a managed four-port series that offers many of the same features as the 1800, such as VPN, firewall, IPS, NAC and optional PoE. The 850 group is an unmanaged four-port series that limits its security features to an IPSec VPN and stateful firewall.

Altmaier said PoE is of growing importance to smaller businesses that foresee the need to extend the range of the network. "There are sites small enough so that a single access point is right," she said, "but if you have a bigger site, you can just plug APs into the PoE port."

The 850s start at $399, and the 870s begin at $649. Both offer models DSL and 100 Mbps Ethernet uplinks.

Both the 800 and 1800 devices support 802.11b and g; the 1800 can also be used with 802.11a equipment. They also support the latest version of the vendor's Security Device Manager (SDM), a component of IOS that offers a Web-based interface for secure setup and management of the routers without the need for client software.

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Altmaier said SDM reduces the technical expertise needed to deploy advanced security capabilities, such as quick integration of antivirus signatures and firewall configuration.

"With SDM, it takes two clicks to set up a firewall," Altmaier said. "Plus, we've implemented NSA [National Security Agency] security guidelines so that you can check if the firewall is configured to those guidelines. If not, it'll ask you if you want to fix that, and in one click it's reconfigured."

Meanwhile, the entire line -- including the high-end series and Cisco 3800 series ISRs -- now supports either built-in or modular 802.11 wireless connectivity with a choice of antenna options. According to Cisco, that addition enables a single access point site to use one device for routing, security and wireless.

According to Cisco, the ISR family is one of the best-selling product lines in its history, having delivered more than 100,000 routers in its first two quarters of shipments.

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