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Cisco jumps on VPN bandwagon

The data networking giant rolls out a new router that supports secure, high-speed access to data over the Net.

Cisco Systems hopped on the overcrowded bandwagon of companies marketing secure connections over the public Net to corporate branch offices and multi-site small businesses.

The data networking giant rolled out a new routing device designed to support high-speed access to data over the Net using virtual private networking (or VPN) technology. The umbrella term is often used to describe a set of protocols that facilitate secure communications across the public network.

The company will ship the so-called 1720 series device next month with support for encryption, tunneling, and firewall features through its Internetworking Operating System (IOS) software. The new hardware is targeted at businesses and service providers who want a low-cost router with specific networking functions.

Others tackling this market include 3Com, Ascend Communications, and Nortel Networks, to name a few.

All seem bullish on the prospects for VPN technology. "We think there will be a lot of people who will be attracted by the economics of VPNs," said Bruce Laird, senior director of marketing for Cisco's branch office and small office/home office solutions.

The rollout of new VPN capabilities was part of a busy day for the data giant, which also included:

  • The introduction of a new broadband cable-based system designed to allow cable modems to connect to data networks. It's targeted at small to medium-sized networks.

    The company essentially incorporated back-end cable-based modem racks with a 7200 series routing device. The equipment is available now and supports the Data-Over-Cable System Interface Specification (DOCSIS).

  • A partnership deal with Bellcore that is intended to provide tools for Internet Protocol (IP)-based networks that run voice and data traffic. The two firms will collaborate on call agent software, operations support systems (OSS), and providing professional services.

  • A network win with VIP Calling, a wholesale provider of Net telephony services. Cisco will provide more than $10 million in gateway hardware and switching devices to expand VIP's current worldwide network.

    Separately, Cisco recently rolled out a new desktop switch that can support all speeds of Ethernet, up to current gigabit rates. The latest addition to the Catalyst 2900 series includes 24-ports of 10/100 megabits per second (MBPS) Ethernet along with gigabit-speed uplinks. Another central component of the firms' strategy for gigabit Ethernet, the Catalyst 8540, is now shipping, according to the company.