Tasman brings network services to routers

Router maker Tasman Networks's next generation of products will incorporate features that are typically available on network appliances, according to a company executive. As these functions are integrated into the router, the company sees an opportunity to also develop software that simplifies user set up and configuration of both the router and the new services.

"As we have a lot of computing headroom on our routers to run these additional functions at full wire speed, we are going to migrate a lot of appliance functions into the router," said Paul Smith, president and chief executive officer of Tasman.

Tasman plans to announce by April next year the integration of new services, currently available on appliances, into its routers. These will include intrusion detection, intrusion prevention, voice over Internet Protocol and PPP (Point to Point Protocol) over Ethernet. The company already offers IPSec (IP Security Protocol), VPN (virtual private network) and firewall capabilities in its routers.

Positioned as a vendor of low-cost and scalable T1/E1 access routers, Tasman uses standard components to drive costs down. The company currently uses a California contract manufacturer to make its products and plans to sign on a contract manufacturer in southern China with the aim of cutting costs further, Smith said.

A number of router makers, including Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks, are adding services capabilities to their products, indicating a shift in the focus of the router from merely moving packets faster, to also being the point for provisioning services.

"The fact that there are so many appliance manufacturers out there means that there are a lot of new things that customers want," added Smith. "Some of those services will migrate to the server, but most of them will probably migrate into the router."

Once the appliance functions are integrated into the router, there is an opportunity to reduce complexity for the customer, according to Smith. The solution Tasman is working on is a layer of software on top of the services and router functions that will make it easier for the user to set up. "The key is to have a strategy to build what we call simplicity software, which are things like user interfaces and configuration wizards," Smith said.

The company announced in October its latest product offering, the Tasman 1001 entry-level WAN access router, with support for one T1/E1 port, and a list price of under US$995. "This product has been optimized for a single T1, to offer it at a lower price, though it has all the services we offer on our bigger routers," said Smith. An ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) option will be added to the product by the first quarter next year.

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