Cisco Expands Firewall Line

Cisco Systems Inc. beefs up its line of firewall products to improve network security and virtual private network performance.

Cisco Systems Inc. Wednesday beefed up its line of firewall products to improve network security and virtual private network performance.

Two firewall enhancements, the PIX 506E and PIX 515E platforms, provide improved performance for the PIX 506 and 515 firewall platforms. The enhanced products are slated to increase performance by as much as two and a half times, according to Richard Palmer, vice president and general manager of VPN and security services at Cisco.

Calling the firewall product line "the broadest in the industry," Palmer told reporters Wednesday that the upgrades enable e-business by providing multiple security components integrated into the infrastructure. In that same vein, integration among various security components will promote safe e-business applications, he said.

For example, the addition of integrated hardware-based VPN acceleration in the firewalls allows high-performance VPN capacity and at the same time allows network resources to be used for other security functions. "We have embedded VPN acceleration across this family," Palmer said. "Also, were enabling increased integration of security elements in the network."

Later this quarter, Cisco plans to roll out Version 6.2 of its PIX operating system, with new features for small-office, home-office and enterprise networks. The new version will facilitate highly scalable VPN installations and provide enhancements for firewall deployments, including new LAN-based failover capability. PIX firewalls will be able to serve as hardware-based VPN clients, making the management of large VPN deployments easier for small and remote offices.

"Now we have small hardware devices that are slaves, from a configuration point of view, to a central site," Palmer said. "Were extending this notion across Ciscos VPN portfolio."

The San Jose, Calif., manufacturer also officially launched the SAFE Blueprint for IP telephony, designed to help enterprises maximize security and enable e-business functions. The blueprint recommends best practices based on Ciscos experience, offering guidelines on integrating security systems throughout the network.

"I think going forward youll see much more intelligent interoperation," Palmer said.