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Cisco device to unite security functions

update Product is designed to help companies simplify network management and trim costs.

update Cisco Systems plans to announce a product that will combine into one box numerous security functions previously available only as separate products.

The new device, called the Adaptive Security Appliance 5500, will be unveiled Tuesday by CEO John Chambers during his keynote address at the Networld+Interop trade show in Las Vegas.

The new product purportedly puts up to 18 different security and network management functions into a single device. These functions include detection of intruders, prevention of denial-of-service attacks, protection from spyware and adware, and network traffic micro-inspection, which can help detect when employees are burning up too much bandwidth by using software such as Kazaa.

Many of these functions are available today in a variety of different Cisco products that sit in a company's data center, including the PIX Security Appliance, the IPS 4200 Series, and the VPN 3000 Concentrator. Because many companies have limited floor space for their data center equipment, the new Adaptive Security Appliance was created to help customers maximize square footage.

This is a different strategy from Cisco's security competitors, such as Check Point Software and Symantec, which offer separate security products for different functions.

On the other hand, Cisco rival Juniper Networks has also started combining functionality into its devices. Cisco's move could spur competitors such as Juniper to continue packing more features into devices.

Cisco, the largest maker of equipment that directs IP traffic within companies and across the Internet, has been beefing up its security portfolio with new features and products. The company has also added much to its lineup through acquisitions. Cisco plans to announce more products that consolidate functionality later this year.

The ASA 5500 products, which Continental Airlines has been testing, are expected to be available in May. They will range in price from about $3,500 to $17,000, said Jayshree Ullal, senior vice president of Cisco's security technology group.

Reuters contributed to this report.