Enterasys challenges Cisco in router arena

Enterasys Networks this week is scheduled to introduce a handful of access routers designed to help users combine multiple security and WAN connectivity functions in one box.

Aimed at Cisco Systems' 2600, 3700 and 7000 series boxes, the XSR routers - XSR-3020, 3150 and 3250 - are targeted at sites from small and midsize branch offices to large central offices. Also on tap is the XSR-4100, aimed at central-site VPN and WAN link aggregation.

Features in the XSR boxes could help users more easily deploy VPNs, firewalls and eventually intrusion detection to remote and central offices, Enterasys says. By combining these functions into a one WAN device, the company says it hopes to eliminate the need to deploy separate appliances for each function.

With the new routers capable of 1,000 to 5,000 VPN tunnels and higher-speed throughput, Enterasys is going after Cisco in the enterprise router market.

"No one has really challenged Cisco in the (enterprise router) market for at least three years," says Lawrence Orans, a senior analyst at Gartner. According to Gartner, Cisco has more than 80 percent market share in access routing.

"There is some percentage of businesses that want an alternative," Orans says. "Just by showing up, Enterasys will make some inroads in the market. If they execute well and have a good price, they could do even better."

Enterasys uses several existing technologies in the XSR line. For VPNs, it combines technology from its Aurorian VPN gateway product line (acquired in the 2001 buyout of Indus River). Enterasys also uses firewall software developed internally on the boxes.

In the fourth quarter, Enterasys says the XSR product family also will support intrusion-detection technology used on the company's Dragon IDS appliance and software products, which was acquired from Network Security Wizards in 2000. Enterasys also plans to include support for Session Initiation Protocol for supporting VoIP in the fourth quarter.

The XSR line will use the VPN client in Windows 2000 and XP, unlike the Aurorian VPN gear, which uses a proprietary client. The XSR routers will interoperate with the VPN gear on a site-to-site basis, but remote access users will need the Aurorian or Windows VPN clients to connect to sites running the respective gear.

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