Cisco Technology Boosts Content Flow

SAN JOSE, CALIF. (03/03/2000) - Cisco Systems Inc. this week announced products designed to provide quick delivery of Web and other Internet content across a network.

The so-called service acceleration products are intended to speed the decision-making processes of intelligent Cisco devices. Such decisions - traffic classification, service application and quality-of-service (QoS) policy enforcement - are inherent in content-aware networking, Cisco says.

The new products include a processor for the Cisco 7200 router, called the Network Services Engine-1 (NSE-1); two new Web URL caching devices; and software for firewalling, load balancing, distributing network services across a router, and managing device-level congestion and QoS parameters.

The NSE-1 delivers Layer 3-7 services at OC-3 rates. The services NSE-1 applies to packets include weighted fair queuing, Access Control List filtering, NetFlow accounting and network address translation, among others. Future services will include IP Multicast and traffic shaping, Cisco says.

"The NSE could be the Trojan horse that pulls through some of the other products," says John Morency, an analyst at Sage Research in Natick, Mass. "I don't think users would necessarily buy Cisco because of policy management software. There's got to be an attribute of the product line that they perceive as high-performance, close to best-in-class, common architecture, etc."

The new Web caching products are the Cache Engine 570 and 590. The 570 and 590 feature 22M to 45M bit/sec performance, respectively, and 36G to 144G bytes of storage.

The firewalling software is called Cisco Secure Integrated Software for the Campus. It runs on Catalyst 5000 switches equipped with a Route/Switch Module, and performs stateful packet filtering, intrusion detection and authentication.

For server load balancing, Cisco announced LocalDirector Version 3.3 and IOS-SLB for its IOS operating system software. LocalDirector 3.3 provides server load balancing at 15 million packet/sec when used with a Catalyst switch. The box also has e-commerce features, such as binding user sessions tospecific transaction servers through cookie recognition and site/server availability monitoring.

IOS-SLB is an option for Cisco's Catalyst 6000 switches that integrates server load balancing with the switch's security, QoS and routing features.

Cisco also introduced new IOS software for its 7500 routers that distribute network services to each port on the router's Versatile Interface Processor (VIP) modules. The Distributed Services software adds QoS services, such as traffic shaping and queuing mechanisms, multiservice compression and queuing, multicast and NetFlow accounting to each VIP.

For management of accelerated services, Cisco unveiled Internetwork Performance Monitor (IPM) 2.1 and QoS Device Manager (QDM) 1.0. IPM 2.1 performs hop-by-hop packet monitoring to spot heavily congested areas.

QDM 1.0 lets users configure and monitor IOS-based QoS parameters on Cisco routers.

Overall, Cisco succeeds at delivering a high-level message on how it sees content networking evolving for business purposes, says Jim Metzler, an associate at consultancy Ashton, Metzler & Associates in Newton, Mass. However, users could be tripped up in the implementation.

"One thing I don't like about it is how darn complex it's going to be to do all of the things they're talking about," Metzler says. "If you want to accelerate networks, that says you understand where the bottlenecks are. People today don't have a good feel for that."

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