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Cisco ships products to speed Web content

The company is shipping networking devices and new software that allow Internet service providers and Web hosting firms to better manage the flow of Net traffic.

Cisco Systems has begun shipping networking devices and new software that speed the delivery of Web content to Internet surfers.

Cisco today announced it has begun selling technology called Web switches, which allow Internet service providers and Web hosting firms to better manage the flow of Net traffic.

The networking giant competes with F5 Networks, Alteon WebSystems, Foundry Networks and others in the emerging Web switch market. The market is expected to grow from $260 million in 1999 to $828 million by 2002, according to a study by Internet Research Group.

Cisco acquired the technology when it purchased ArrowPoint Communications for about $5.7 billion in May. The deal was finalized last Friday.

Cisco today renamed ArrowPoint's products as Cisco 11000 Series Content Service Switches. The company also announced new software--called Cisco Web NS 4.0--that runs on top of its Web switches. The software previously eased congestion by distributing traffic evenly among servers on a network, so the servers won't be overloaded with work.

Now the software can pinpoint the location of Web surfers and retrieve Web information closest to them, a Cisco representative said.

For example, if a Web site's content is hosted on multiple servers across the world, Cisco's new software will decide that the New York server should send the Web information to the person in New York, the representative said.

Cheng Wu, vice president and general manager of Cisco's content switching technologies business unit, said Cisco is working to incorporate the Web switching software into Cisco's family of switches. The company will eventually merge ArrowPoint's technology with Cisco's older Web switch product, called Local Director. Cisco will soon announce a roadmap that will allow Local Director customers to migrate to ArrowPoint's technology, he said.