The networking giant will add security and firewall features to its low-end routers targeted at the booming small-business market.
Integrating firewall features into its software is the latest move by the networking powerhouse to incorporate firewall capabilities in its products. Cisco also ships a PIX Firewall dedicated appliance and the dedicated Centri Firewall for the Microsoft Windows NT market.
The moves by Cisco come as the lines between operating systems, security products, and networking enhancements are blurred by the growing list of services offered by the likes of Microsoft within NT. The company just announced an enhanced Proxy Server add-on for the popular platform that includes firewall functionality, and Microsoft continues to focus on routing and networking services support for NT.
The new security enhancements are an outgrowth of an alliance spearheaded by Cisco and announced in February to further the integration of security software from clients to servers and inter-networking gear. Heavyweights such as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and Oracle were among those to sign on to the initiative.
Cisco has made it clear that it would like its set of inter-networking software, called IOS, to be the de facto standard for providing services to software applications across networks. By doing so, the company offers a sort of protocol "salad" of features for IOS that will now include firewall enhancements.
"This is not something we've done overnight in reaction to the market," noted a Cisco spokesman.
The company also released a new routing device called the 1605-R that includes a wide area interface slot for Internet connections and two local area Ethernet slots, allowing two network segments to connect to the public network or corporate intranet.
The set of firewall enhancements, bundled in with Cisco's IOS software package, will run on the company's 1600 and 2500 lines of low-end router hardware, including the 1605-R. The software will be available in January and will cost $700 for the 1600 line and $1,200 for the 2500 line as software add-ons.
The new 1605-R model costs $1,495, including the company's base IOS routing software code.