Chambers Touts New Cisco Security Appliance, Wireless Wares

"Security is not an afterthought. It has to be designed in from the beginning," Chambers said in his keynote Tuesday at Interop Las Vegas 2005.

Chambers described security as the top issue facing CIOs today.

Cisco's new Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) 5500 series offers integrated firewall, VPN and intrusion-prevention capabilities on a single platform, reducing the number of network devices required to secure a customer's network, Chambers said.

"The key word is 'adaptive.' It's proactive and anticipatory of what's going to occur," Chambers said.

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The appliance--available in three versions that target SMBs to large enterprise customers--is part of Cisco's Self-Defending Network Strategy. The product incorporates features found in a variety of Cisco security products, including its PIX Security Appliance firewall, IPS 4200 Series and VPN 3000 Concentrator families.

"This will be a real benefit to the SMB market and branch offices where they have less IT sophistication," said Tom Gobeille, president and CEO of Network Computing Architects, a solution provider in Bellevue, Wash. Gobeille said large enterprises would also benefit because IT staff could be freed up to focus on more strategic issues.

Shipping now, prices for the appliance family start at $3,495 for the SMB version and range up to $16,995 for the large enterprise version.

Chambers said Cisco plans to introduce a blade that will add SSL VPN capabilities to the vendor's Catalyst 6500 switches, but did not provide a time frame.

The appliances also support Cisco's Network Admission Control strategy for ensuring that endpoint devices connecting to the network meet corporate security policies before being granted network access, said Jayshree Ullal, senior vice president of the security technology group at Cisco, San Jose, Calif., during a press conference. Ullal said the security capabilities featured in ASA would also make their way into Cisco's routing platforms.

During the keynote, Chambers also offered a sneak peak at Cisco's forthcoming Wireless Location Appliance 2700, slated to debut later this week at the conference, which aims to help customers track Wi-Fi-enabled devices. In the healthcare market, for example, customers could use the appliance to find equipment carts, he said.

Chambers also showcased Cisco's new wireless-enabled Integrated Services Routers, which debuted this week.

The vendor added new fixed-configuration models for small offices and introduced integrated wireless capabilities across the entire line.

The Integrated Services Router family, first launched last fall, already includes integrated security and VoIP services.

Chambers has called Cisco's Integrates Services Router launch "the fastest rollout we've ever had," with the line hitting an annual order run rate of more than $1 billion in less than two quarters.

Now, the addition of new wireless capabilities will create additional service opportunities for channel partners, Cisco executives said.

New fixed-configuration 1800 series routers feature an integrated eight-port switch, Power over Ethernet, built-in security features such as VPN, firewall, intrusion prevention and support for Cisco's Self-Defending Network strategy, as well as optional 802.11 a/b/g WLAN capabilities.

The new 800 series fixed-configuration routers include an integrated four-port switch, optional Power over Ethernet, built-in security features and optional 802.11 b/g capabilities.

The new routers are scheduled to ship in May with starting prices of $1,295 for the 1800 series and $399 for the 800 series.

Cisco also plans to ship wireless interface cards to add WLAN capabilities to its existing 3800, 2800 and 1800 series modular models later this summer. Over time, Cisco plans to integrate centrally managed WLAN technology acquired from Airespace earlier this year.

Interop organizer Media Live International Tuesday also unveiled plans to host a second Interop conference in the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York from Dec. 11 to Dec. 16.