Cisco Pulls Advanced Routing Services Together

By integrating security and acceleration features into the router chassis, rather than depending on separate boxes, Cisco promises reduced costs and simplified network management.

Ciscos 7200 Series Router—like a Swiss army knife—will get still more handy features to better handle the increasing demands coming from edge routers such as Ciscos newer Integrated Services Routers.

Cisco at Interop on May 1 will introduce three new add-ons for its 10-year-old aggregation routers that can help the routers better aggregate the new services being turned on in its fast-growing ISR installed base.

Those services, such as VPN security services and VOIP (voice over IP), place much heavier demands on the aggregation routers and have raised the criticism that performance takes a nose dive when they are turned on.

/zimages/2/28571.gifTo read more about Ciscos multifunction ISR routers, click here.

"With services aggregation, were emphasizing complementary functions that are needed at the aggregation point to make the services run end-to-end," said Stefan Dyckerhoff, director of Ciscos midrange routing business unit in San Jose, Calif.

For example, he said, "In VOIP deployments youd configure all those things at the branch, and at the aggregation point you have to turn on QOS [quality of service]. But customers also turn on IP SLA for real-time quality metrics on the network, [and] turn on optimized edge routing to make sure you pick the optimal path through the service providers network to get the best quality for voice. So we need to accommodate all those features that had been distributed across multiple boxes."

The new NPE-G2 (Network Processing Engine) can be added into a 7200 Series router chassis to double its performance while maintaining the customers existing investment in the chassis, interface cards and/or port adapters, Dyckerhoff said, adding that those represent "the majority of the cost for a typical deployment."

The new NPE-G2 can support those services at OC-3 data rates. It is due in May.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about application-acceleration offerings at Interop.

To boost security performance at the aggregation point, Cisco added a new VPN Service Adapter for the 7200 Series Routers that can triple the performance of IPSec (IP Security) when used with the new NPE-Gs.

"As more and more branches come online with IPSec tunnels to the headquarters location, the need for IPSec performance at headquarters increases," Dyckerhoff said.

The 7200 VSA VPN hardware accelerator module plugs into an unused I/O slot in the 7200 chassis. The VSA, which also supports AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) VPNs that use the triple DES (Data Encryption Standard) encryption key, is aimed at the same "OC-3 sweet spot," Dyckerhoff said.

The module is due in the second half of 2006.

The new 7200 Port Adapter Jacket Card can be used to add a seventh port adapter to the router chassis. It delivers a "turbo slot" that boosts the bandwidth capacity of the router by 50 percent. "Now were increasing that total capacity for the whole chassis," Dyckerhoff said. The capacity increases from 1.2G bps to 1.8G bps. It also works with the new NPE-G2 and is available now.

On the software side, Cisco added new Secure IP Multicast encryption and a graphical security management tool for the 7200 Series.

Cisco said that by integrating such services into the router chassis, rather than overlaying the services on the network in multiple, separate boxes, customers can reduce operating costs and simplify network management.

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