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Cisco steps closer to converged networks

Cisco continues to move closer toward its goal by rolling out updated networking products that feature improved voice, data, and video integration.

    Cisco Systems continued to inch closer toward its goal of converged networks by rolling out updated networking products that feature improved voice, data, and video integration.

    Cisco today said it will soon offer call-management software for campuses and small office sites, a product that stems from the networking giant's recent acquisition of Selsius Systems. The technology is thought to be growing more important as data-oriented companies drive toward replacing infrastructure built around by traditional telecommunications equipment providers.

    Cisco purchased Selsius in October as part of its strategy to accelerate the move from proprietary, circuit-switched PBX switches to a cheaper option, data-based systems that enable data and voice integration.

    A large portion of that strategy rests on Selsius' CallManager product, which maps phone numbers to Internet protocol (IP) addresses and keeps track of phone calls that are made, said Byron Henderson, Cisco's marketing director for enterprise products.

    Analysts said Cisco's moves to offer combined voice, video, and data technology underscore the firm's need to show off periodic updates on the road to offering a complete set of converged products.

    "This is still a collection of pieces with no unifying theme," said David Passmore, research director for consulting firm NetReference. "They're not completely integrated yet, but they're making progress."

    Cisco's CallManager, to be released in May, will be free, but the phones Cisco will bring to market as part of its IP-based thrust will cost about $125 per user, as previously reported. CallManager 2.2 can support up to 100 users, but Cisco intends to make the technology available on larger enterprises in the future.

    Cisco also updated three high-end wide area networking (WAN) products and added new professional services--in partnership with other companies--that will help organizations build and implement converged networks.

    Cisco announced it has added voice over frame relay and voice-over-IP enhancements to several "gateway" products, which will make it easier and more efficient to build converged networks on the WAN, Henderson said.

    The company also added video enhancements to MCS3810 access concentrator, which combines voice, data, and video in a LAN and brings it over a WAN, Henderson said.

    Cisco will release the VSC2700 Virtual Switch Controller for the Catalyst 8500 Series of ATM switch routers next month. The product will allow large voice networks to communicate over the ATM protocol, he said.