Cisco bulks up branch routers for cloud

ISRs support hybrid WAN access and new Cisco ONE software licensing

NEW YORK -- Cisco is fortifying its ISR branch routers to give users more options when accessing cloud services and backing up primary links.

Cisco is expanding its ISR 4000 series devices with four more modular platforms that support hybrid WAN capabilities the ability to turn up Internet and wireless 3G/4G links as backups or ancillary connections to primary MPLS circuits. The company is working with Vodafone to enable that European carrier to offer a 4G plus wired managed service bundle based on the ISR 4000s, Cisco officials said at the Interop New York exhibition here this week.

As companies move more of their IT operations to the cloud, the need for branch offices to backhaul traffic to the corporate data center is decreasing. Instead, direct Internet access to the cloud would be sufficient.

+MORE ON NETWORK WORLD:Cisco rolls out second generation ISRs+

And as more traffic is sent over diverse WAN links, it becomes imperative to establish policies for which links particular applications use, and at what rate and priority. So Cisco's Application Policy Infrastructure Controller Enterprise Module becomes key in this regard, Cisco officials say, as well as a new Intelligent WAN application for automation that will be available in the first half of 2015.

In addition to the existing ISR 4451-X (pictured), which debuted last year, Cisco is adding four more modular platforms to the 4000 series line that scale from 50Mbps to 1Gbps. They all run the IOS XE operating system and run virtualized services in software.

The four new routers are the 4431, 4351, 4331 and 4321. The 4431 is 1RU and scales from 500Mbps to 1Gbps. It has four total onboard WAN or 10/100/1000 LAN ports, 2Gbytes of maximum data plane memory, 16Gbytes of maximum control plane memory, and 32Gbytes of maximum flash memory.

The 4351 scales from 200Mbps to 400Mbps. It is 2RU, with three total onboard WAN or 10/100/1000 LAN ports. It has 16Gbytes of combined data/control memory, and 16Gbytes of maximum flash memory.

The 4331 scales from 100Mbps to 300Mbps. It is 1RU, with three total onboard WAN or 10/100/1000 LAN ports. It, too, has 16Gbytes of maximum data/control and flash memory.

The 4321 scales from 50Mbps to 100Mbps. It is 1RU, with two total onboard WAN or 10/100/1000 LAN ports. It supports 8Gbytes of maximum combined data/control memory and 16Gbytes of maximum flash memory.

All routers can be Application Experience (AX)-enabled with software for virtualized security, application performance and WAN optimization. These services are delivered through a Cisco UCS server blade integrated into the router, which now include one based on Intel's E5 8 core processor.

A major US school district is already using the 4451 AX router with hybrid WAN functions and path selection to support online whiteboarding, cloud-based web security and advanced visualization through a third party application. Sources say it's the Los Angeles Unified School District but Cisco officials would neither confirm nor deny that.

A non-US grocery store chain is using Cisco ISRs with Akamai Connect, an enhancement to Cisco ISR-AX branch routers that better optimizes HTTP traffic using WAN optimization with content caching, to support Google apps and guest WiFi over bandwidth constrained links.

The software intelligence for hybrid WAN, and many other Cisco offerings, will come from Cisco ONE software, a new packaging and licensing consumption model from the company. Cisco ONE software will include suites in this case, WAN Foundation Suite that combine base functionality, plus management and energy efficiency applications, for example; software license portability, so users won't have to re-license software when they switch to a comparable hardware platform; and licensing options such as perpetual, subscription and transactional, with the ability to freely receive enhancements to theor software suites if they have a maintenance contract.

A new management application, Cisco Prime 2.2, will ship next month that can be used in the Cisco ONE WAN suite. Advanced versions of the Cisco ONE WAN software will include collaboration and threat defense capabilities, such as Sourcefire Intrusion Detection and malware protection for cloud web security.

Cisco ONE is in controlled availability now. The perpetual license will be available by the end of this year. The four new ISR 4000s are available now. They are priced from $1,995 to $18,000 in non-AX and AX versions.

This story, "Cisco bulks up branch routers for cloud" was originally published by Network World.

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