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Cisco Product Rollout Aims To Boost Branch Offices

The new products and services include platforms, hardware modules, software enhancements, and new feature sets.

Cisco Systems on Wednesday rolled out several new products and services designed to give branch offices similar security, wireless, application acceleration, and unified communications capabilities as the home office.

The new products and services include platforms, hardware modules, software enhancements, and new feature sets.

"We came out with a branch [office] architecture that allows us to provide our customers with an entire set of service capabilities that they need in the branch office: the routing, the switching, the wireless capabilities, unified communications, voice over IP, and Wide Area Network optimization to drive down latency and improve application performance," said Inbar Lasser-Raab, Cisco's director of network systems, in an interview.

Cisco's 1861 Integrated Services Router, which costs $3,995, comes with built-in security and unified communications capabilities for up to eight users in a branch office. A smaller business can connect its phones to the router for basic voice messaging. A larger business can tie it to a business application for the full unified communications experience, Lasser-Raab said.

The Catalyst 2960 Series Switches with LAN Lite Cisco IOS (Internetwork Operating System) Software are managed switches with entry-level security and quality of service. The switches cost $995.

The Cisco Unified Messaging Gateway is designed for routing messages and exchanging subscriber and directory information among up to 10,000 voice mail systems within a unified messaging network, meaning one that supports an integrated in-box for multiple kinds of messages such as voicemail, e-mail, and fax. It acts as the central hub in a network. The gateway will be available in November, starting at $9,000 for 250 nodes.

The Intrusion Prevention System Advanced Integration Module, which starts at $3,000, is meant to help branch offices defend their networks against attacks and disruptions. The module identifies and stops malicious traffic originating from the Internet.

Cisco's new Performance Routing software monitors Internet traffic, performance bottlenecks, and overall network conditions, while the Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) Network Module (for the Cisco 3800 Series Integrated Services Router) lets branch offices consolidate servers and storage into data centers and centrally deploy new applications.

Additionally, Cisco announced a software upgrade for its Wireless LAN Controller, which now supports the IEEE 802.11n draft 2.0 standard that has the potential of delivering five times the performance of current wireless networks.

"Now customers can give their branches the same level of support and capability as they do in the headquarters," said Lasser-Raab.

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