INTEROP - Networking vendors take upgrade route

At Interop Las Vegas 2006 Cisco Systems will announce three add-on products that it said could triple the performance of its popular 7200 Series routers.

Cisco's announcement is one of dozens being made at Interop by networking vendors, many of which plan to boost the performance or security of existing technologies. For example, Citrix Systems intends to unveil the NetScaler 12000, a high-end addition to its line of application acceleration appliances.

The products that Cisco is adding include a processing engine called the NPE-G2, which doubles the 7200's routing performance to 2 million packets per second, said Stefan Dyckerhoff, the company's director of midrange routing.

Cisco also intends to announce a virtual private network services adapter and a device that lets users add a seventh port adapter to their routers. Dyckerhoff said the VPN adapter, together with the NPE-G2 engine, could triple the throughput of the 7200s, which are widely used as WAN aggregation routers.

Wachovia will install the NPE-G2 on 120 existing 7200s when the new processor becomes available this month, said John Burns, vice president of network services at the Charlotte, N.C.-based financial services firm. Because he can use the 7200 chassis he already has in place, Burns said he expects to save "at least several million dollars over moving to a new platform."

Burns beta-tested the NPE-G2 from December to March and found that it can support a mix of voice-over-IP and data traffic with full quality-of- service capabilities -- something that the 7200's current processing engine can't handle. He said he will also use the new engine's added capacity to support data encryption on Wachovia's networks.

Joel Conover, an analyst at Current Analysis, said Cisco almost completely dominates the market for aggregation routing, with a market share of about 90 percent. But without the performance improvements being made to the 7200 line this week, "Cisco would have been inviting competitors to come in and offer an alternative," Conover said.

He added that similar improvements are needed on Cisco's line of integrated services routers, an even more popular offering that provides data, voice and security services.

Wes Wasson, vice president of worldwide marketing at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Citrix, said the NetScaler 12000 will support 275,000 application transactions per second, up from 230,000 in the company's current NetScaler 10000 model. The 12000 will sell for $95,000, complete with software, Wasson said.

Major League Baseball plans to test and probably deploy the NetScaler 12000 on its MLB.-com Web site at the end of the current baseball season, said Justin Shaffer, vice president and chief architect for the site.

Shaffer currently uses eight NetScaler 9950s in two data centers in New York and Chicago to improve performance on the Web site. He said the 12000 could reduce the number of required machines, freeing up data center space while adding more capacity.

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