Cisco details next phase of Its VPN plan

Cisco Systems has detailed several products, including a new 7100 Series router family, that are being presented as part of phase three of its Enterprise Virtual Private Network (E-VPN) strategy.

Cisco's focus on VPNs is important, as more companies deploy VPNs to link with customers and partners, said Martha Young, an analyst at the Cutting Edge Information Group, a market research company in Golden, Colorado.

"(VPNs) level the playing field, effectively, for small companies competing with large companies," by enabling use of the Internet or private connections to respond to customer requirements, Young said.

Cisco's 7100 Series routers are intended to provide a cost-effective solution for remote-access, intranet, and extranet connectivity using public data services, according to Cisco.

Other components of the company's E-VPN plan rolled out Monday include the SafeNet/SoftPK VPN client (developed by Baltimore-based Information Research Engineering) for remote access to electronic-commerce and telecommuting applications; the PIX 515 firewall appliance, providing network perimeter security and supporting as many as 125,000 concurrent connections; and the Integrated Services Adapter (ISA) for Cisco 7200/7500 Series routers and Integrated Services Module (ISM) for the 7100 series routers. ISA and ISM provide data-origin authentication and related services based on the IP Security protocol.

Also debuting are extensions to the Cisco Internetwork Operating System Firewall Feature Set, which are being expanded to include embedded intrusion detection, VPN authentication, and authorisation.

The security offerings are of particular importance, because of the criticality of secure connections to VPNs, Young said.

Previous phases of Cisco's E-VPN strategy, announced in mid-1998 and in January, focused on extensions to WAN capabilities, quality of service, and service-level monitoring for routers. A fourth phase, to be detailed later this year, will extend VPN functionality to include voice and video capabilities, according to Cisco.

IRE SafeNet/SoftPK is available immediately, priced at $US79; the PIX 515 will ship in July, priced at $5000. The firewall extensions, also due to ship in July, will cost between $900 and $5000, and the ISA and ISM will ship this summer, with pricing to be announced at that time. Finally, the 7100 Series routers will ship in July, priced from $12,000.

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