Cisco enhances routers, switches for collaboration

By , Network World |  Unified Communications, Cisco, routers

Cisco this week is extending its branch routers and LAN switches in an effort to improve the collaboration capabilities of enterprise customers.

Cisco is enhancing its Integrated Services Routers (ISR) and Catalyst 4500 and 6500 switches with new models, line cards and software to address mobility, sustainability and unified communications (UC) requirements.

For the ISR, Cisco is unveiling two models at the low end: the 880 VDSL2 and 890. Both are targeted at small businesses and offer faster broadband options and increased performance, with integrated security and wireless connectivity.

Another new ISR is the 1861W, which is aimed at small businesses with voice and wired/wireless integration requirements. It supports IEEE 802.11g WLANs.

Cisco is now supporting High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) on the ISR's 3G Wireless Wide Area Network module. HSPA boosts bandwidth and performance for the module in backup or disaster-recovery applications.

Cisco also says applications from Singlewire Software now run on the ISR's Application Extension Platform (AXP) services module. Singlewire's InformaCast package simultaneously sends an audio stream or text message to multiple IP phones, IP speakers, desktop notification systems and overhead paging systems.

The ISRs also now support the following UC features for collaboration and mobility:

* Cisco Unified SIP Proxy to reduce UC deployment costs.

* Voice signatures on the IP Security Network Module to make voice more secure.

* Mobility and video features on Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express.

* Timecard management capabilities on Cisco Unity Express to improve the productivity of branch employees.

The ISR's EtherSwitch Etnernet switching modules also now support Cisco EnergyWise power efficiency technology to help improve energy utilization in the LAN.

For the Catalyst LAN switches, Cisco unveiled a supervisor module for the Catalyst 4500 series. The 6L-E is intended to bring media collaboration and increased energy efficiency to the wiring closet switches through support for Power over Ethernet (PoE) Plus at 30 watts.

PoE Plus is an extension to the PoE standard for video and wireless access point support.

Cisco also rolled out a 48-port 10/100/1000Mbps line card that enables 30-watt PoE support for devices such as videophones, dual-band wireless access points, building service devices and video surveillance cameras. Cisco says it also extended its Smart Call Home support notification feature and EnergyWise capabilties to the Catalyst 4500.

The Catalyst 4500, and all of Cisco's wiring closet switches, also now have a limited lifetime warranty, Cisco says.

For the Catalyst 6500, Cisco enhanced its use in campus backbones by integrating the virtual switching system (VSS) and service module capabilities of the switch. This lets customers deploy firewall, network analysis module (NAM), and wireless service modules in their VSS campus core, for increased backbone scale and reliability, Cisco says.

New NAM capabilities provide visibility into voice applications, traffic analysis and segmented MPLS networks, Cisco says.

Meanhwhile, Cisco says there's plenty of life left in the Catalyst 6500 even though the company rolled out the next-generation Nexus switch for data center unified fabric applications. The Nexus is optimized for those environments while the Catalyst 6500 will not likely attain FibreChannel over Ethernet (FCoE) unified I/O or lossless Data Center Ethernet capabilities, said Kumar Srikantan, vice president of product management for Cisco's campus switching systems technology group.

But that doesn't mean the 600,000 Catalyst 6500 chassis deployed are due for retirement, Srikantan says. For instance, the current Supervisor 720 with VSS only drives 40Gbps per slot on the system even though the Catalyst 6500 is capable of 80Gbps per slot, he says.

Therefore, one might expect another supervisor engine to emerge soon to drive the Catalyst 6500 to 80Gbps per slot or higher. And given that most supervisor engines have a 10 to 12 year life cycle, according to Srikantan, and the Sup 720 came out in 2003, a new supervisor could extend the life of the Catalyst 6500 by another 10 to 12 years.

"It's the B-52 of switching," Srikantan says of the Catalyst 6500, referring to the venerable U.S. military aircraft.

The Catalyst 6500 should attain EnergyWise power efficiency capabilities in the first half of 2010, Srikantan says.

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