Cisco boosts connectivity

* Cisco expected to announce hardware modules for its Integrated Services Router

Cisco is expected to announce new hardware modules for its Integrated Services Router line that add network management and monitoring, as well as connectivity options, such as cable broadband, DSL and metro Ethernet. (Click here for full coverage of Cisco's announcements this week.)

The new modules for the ISR 1800, 2800 and 3800 series routers are a Network Analysis Module (NAM) and WAN interface cards that support cable modem, metro Ethernet and high-bit-rate DSL links. An upgrade to the ISR Services Engine blades, used for various add-on features such as VoIP and content networking, also is planned.

The NAM card for the ISR provides the same features as the NAM card previously available for the Catalyst 6500 switch - real-time traffic monitoring, packet capture tools, and inspection of capabilities for individual user and application flows, using Cisco's NetFlow network management and analysis technology.

"The NAM module replaces having to run around with a sniffer to collect data about traffic patterns," says Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with Yankee Group.

The previous NAM module was able only to provide traffic analysis for LAN or campus networks where a NAM-enabled Catalyst 6500 switch was operating. Putting a NAM blade into a branch-office router could help businesses get a better handle on traffic problems and troubleshooting for the WAN, he adds.

The Services Engine card for the ISR series is an Intel-based Linux blade appliance that runs extra services on top of the router's basic WAN routing and security functions. The new blade has an upgraded processor and software that more than doubles the performance of the previous, according to Cisco. The new Services Engine hardware and software provides as much as 100Mbps of throughput for traffic for the various services that can run on the blade. These include CallManager Express VoIP, stateful firewall inspection, standard (non-Group Encryption Transport) IPSec VPN connectivity and content caching,

Upgrades for ISR connectivity include a new cable modem Data over Cable Service Interface Specification WAN interface, which can provide links as fast as 40Mbps for ISR routers attached to a cable broadband network. The high-bit-rate DSL card provides a single G.SHDSL symmetric DSL port that scales from 2.3M to 16Mbps.

A dual-port Fast Ethernet (100Mbps) card for the ISRs is being released, which could connect the box to a carrier's metro Ethernet service. Although LAN switches often are used to hook up to metro Ethernet links, this module could allow a site to use metro Ethernet as a primary connection mode, with traditional WAN router links - such as T-1 or DSL - as a backup or dual-homing option, Cisco says.

Bob Brown is executive editor of news for Network World. Reach him at

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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