Cisco unveils adaptive security appliances

Cisco Systems announced three versions of a new Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) 5500 series Tuesday at the Interop show in the US.

Cisco CEO John Chambers touted the devices during a keynote presentation, depicting them as a part of a manageable and affordable system that could be used to link data centers with remote offices at large companies and for use in small and midsize businesses. "It is an architectural play, not a box or a systems play," he said.

At a separate news conference later, Jayshree Ullal, Cisco's senior vice president of security, emphasized the simplicity of having various security functions contained in a single device. "Instead of daisy-chaining [different boxes], you are dealing with one form factor," she said.

Ullal also said that the security features in the appliance series will eventually work their way into Cisco routers and Catalyst switches, but she declined to give a detailed road map for when that would happen.

The ASA 5500 devices are part of Cisco's Self-Defending Network security strategy. The devices include Virtual Private Network services, including remote IPsec and Secure Sockets Layer virtual private network capabilities, as well as quality-of-service capabilities and general routing.

Threat-defense services include worm and virus mitigation, spyware/adware protection, network traffic microinspection, hacker and intrusion prevention and denial-of-service prevention.

The appliances are priced from US$3,500 to $17,000.

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