Borderless Bonanza: Cisco Updates Routing, Switching, Security Lines

Cisco on Tuesday made across-the-board updates to its switching, routing and security portfolios, including what the networking giant is calling its fastest Catalyst Ethernet switch to date.

The product releases are the latest addition to its Borderless Networks architecture for supporting applications and virtualization- and cloud-centric data centers, the third update to the strategy since it was introduced a year ago.

At the time, Cisco called Borderless Networks a $10 billion opportunity, and is hoping to incentivize VARs to use the products and services for upselling opportunities and advancing the architecture-based sales strategy Cisco's pushing through many of its channel-sold product lines.

"This is a lot about performance," said Inbar Lasser-Raab, senior director of network systems at Cisco. "Lots of applications are going to be hosted on data centers and used from remote sites, and there is an 'any time, anywhere, any device' message. That makes the network more relevant than ever before."

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Among the new releases Tuesday are the Catalyst 4500 E switch, including a 10-slot chassis capable of supporting 848 Gbps of bandwidth and running Cisco's IOS XE. It supports 100 10 G Ethernet SFP-plus ports, 200 Gigabit Ethernet SFP ports, or 384 Power-over-Ethernet-plus ports, and includes various Cisco applications like TrustSec, EnergyWise and LAN Base to cover areas like energy management and application management. It's available now and starts at $27,480.

Next: ASR, WLAN and WAAS Get Updates, Too

Next is an adjusted version of the ASR 1000 edge router: a 1 RU-model, dubbed the ASR 1001, that can boost performance from 2.5 Gbps to 5 Gbps. Like other ASR 1000 line models, it includes maximum throughput of 1.8 Gbps, and also has four built-in Gigabit Ethernet ports. It'll be available in December and is priced at $30,000.

"A big point is the flexibility," said Lasser-Raab, discussing the routing and switching updates. "You build as you grow aspects of the solution. You are selling routing infrastructure, for example, and if customers are not yet ready to deploy all of these new capabilities, you can create the infrastructure they need and then add to the platform."

Cisco's update to its Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) offering, which is the vendor's WAN optimization product line, includes two new additions. One is WAAS Express (starting at $1,000), which is available on-demand for application acceleration, and the other is a version of WAAS for its Services Routing Engine module (starting at $2,500) on its ISR routers. Both were made available in the summer.

Also new from Cisco is an 802.11n wireless access point, the Aironet 1040, targeted at SMBs and offered in a dual-band version of $795 and a single-band version for $495. There's also an addition to its LAN services offering called CiscoWorks LAN Management Solution, whose 4.0 version is available for $2,495to support 50 Cisco devices and $89,995 for supporting 10,000 devices.

Further down the line is the UCS Express, a branch office version of Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) that while not a full version of the UCS is intended for use with the ISR and can run Microsoft Windows, VMware and is intended to optimize how applications are used between UCS servers in a data center and branch and remote office locations. It'll be available in November, starting at $2,785.

Next: Reference Designs And Services

To steer solution providers toward using the products in line with the Borderless Networks concept, Cisco is further including reference designs under a program called Smart Business Architecture Enterprise and management support services through Smart Net Total Care.

Finally, Cisco made updates to its Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) line. The Cisco ASA 5585-X ties together firewall and VPN support with an intrusion prevention system.

It includes a two-slot chassis and is available in four models, from a 2 Gbps model, starting at $29,995, up to a 20 Gbps model. There's also a new AnyConnect security client, version 3.0, providing support options in IPSecc VPN, SSL, 802.1x and 802.1AE MACSec, and supporting Windows Mobile devices and the Apple iPhone.

Expect continuing additions to the portfolios, according to Cisco.

"Every six months or so, there's going to be new innovation," Lasser-Raab said. "We will come up with additional innovations and good evolutionary capabilities. Think cloud, think virtualization, think video."

Next: VAR Says Cisco Puts 'Wood Behind The Arrow'

Tony Balistrieri, vice president of partner strategy at San Francisco-based solution provider FusionStorm, said Cisco's continued updates to Borderless Networks show "wood behind the arrow." It's proving a real product and service evolution, and not just marketing, he said.

"The big growth is around storage and around computing power, both virtual and physical. But the big component in both of those areas is throughput. How do you move all this data around, especially if you've got a voluminous amount of structured data?" he said. "Cisco's doing a great job in the core, but they're also focusing out on the edge, too."

Expect to see an increased emphasis from Cisco on winning back areas of the market where competitors may have taken share, he said.

"They want more of the edge back," Balistreri said. "I think they were losing some of it to HP. I think they're losing some of their firewall business to Juniper. I like what I see in WAAS because that's where they come up against F5. I think they see areas where they can improve under that Borderless Networks philosophy."