Cisco maps IP, ATM classes of service

Cisco Systems this week took a big step towards offering differentiated classes of service across the range of its own equipment, announcing that its routing software now will carry traffic priorities across packet-based and ATM networks.

The latest version of the Cisco Internetwork Operating System (IOS) integrates IP and ATM mechanisms for prioritising traffic, the company announced on Tuesday. The software will allow enterprises and service providers to classify some types of traffic above others and maintain that priority from one end to the other of a Cisco combined IP-ATM network.

With class-of-service control, enterprises and service providers will be able to make sure business-critical applications run as required under all circumstances by limiting the maximum amount of network bandwidth that less important traffic can consume. With this tool, traffic designated as important on a Cisco IP device will also be prioritised on a Cisco ATM switch.

The Internet Engineering Task Force is currently working on class-of-service mechanisms that will bring together ATM quality of service (QoS) and emerging IP packet-based QoS methods. The emerging standards include Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and Differentiated Services. Class of service is a step towards true QoS, which in ATM allows control of traffic latency.

The Cisco solution announced on Tuesday is limited to devices running IOS, but the company said the mechanism will permit a phased deployment to Cisco's Tag Switching technology and MPLS.

The class-of-service capability is available now for Cisco 7500 series routers. Pricing was not disclosed.

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