New Cisco Routers Drive M2M, Tactical Mobility Conversations

Cisco's new 819 Integrated Services Router (ISR) Machine-to-Machine Gateway, designed to extend 3G/4G wireless WAN services to small devices in the field. The hook is that the 819 is a small form-factor unit that can not only thrive in harsh weather conditions but also drive machine-to-machine communication in industries that would most benefit from that flexibility, such as medical, transportation, physical security -- say, video surveillance at an ATM vestibule -- or the vending industry.

"We're seeing a lot of interest in the Internet of things," said Inbar Lasser-Raab, senior director of Borderless Networks at Cisco. "By 2015, there will be 25 billion connected IP devices out there, more than three times the number of people. Consider how much machine-to-machine traffic is growing."

The 819 weighs 2.3 lbs, which makes it "lighter than a MacBook Air," said Lasser-Raab, and includes 3G and GPS antenna for location-based services. The ruggedized version of the 819 can withstand temperatures as low as minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Cisco.

Further, the ISR supports a range of security features -- from application inspection firewall to intrusion prevention and VPN encryption -- and can be managed remotely via Cisco Prime, Cisco's network management platform for enterprises and service providers. It offers Cisco WAN optimization and QOS features, too.

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The ruggedized version of the 819 lists at $2,300, while a non-ruggedized version of the router starts at $1,600. Availability is end of August, according to Cisco.

In a separate announcement, Cisco added to its portfolio of Embedded Services Routers (ESR), debuting a new router and updating an existing routers intended for use in military, public service or transportation settings where on-the-go mobile connectivity is required.

The Cisco 5915 ESR, which is new, includes streaming multicast video support, remote voice services using Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express, QoS support and embedded security. It's intended as a replacement product for Cisco 3200 Series Mobile Access Routers (MAR), whose end-of-sale was announced by Cisco in March, an is based on a 3.5-inch square PCI104 form factor, which means that Cisco can pack both a router and switch onto one board with two Fast Ethernet routed interfaces and three Fast Ethernet switched interfaces.

Cisco's ESR 5940 is also seeing a performance boost update, including a 30 percent increase in overall performance and the additions of Cisco WAAS Express for providing on-the-go WAN optimization, and Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express now expanded to 150 user capacity.

The 5915s start at $3,990 but overall pricing for each router depends on configuration, including whether they come with thermal plates for conduction cooling and the sophistication of the IOS serves onboard the router.

Tactical mobility has been a recent focus for Cisco product development. Louis Sutherland, product manager at Cisco, said in-the-field connectivity in high-stress industries like the military, transportation, first responders and "extraction" industries like mining and oil could be Cisco partners' next big vertical market opportunity.

"Everyone is itching to get this connectivity," he said. "It has to be developed and there have to be product solutions to fit these scenarios. The extraction industries lose millions on maintenance alone because they have to send people to fix connectivity."