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Cisco adds WAN optimization, tunnel-less VPN to ISR

Andrew R. Hickey

Cisco yesterday announced several updates to its branch office-ready Integrated Services Router (ISR), adding into the mix modules for WAN optimization and application acceleration, a tunnel-less VPN based on Group Encrypted Transport (GET) technology, and a new services engine.

The networking giant, which has sold 2 million ISRs globally since their release just over two years ago, said the platform lets branch offices integrate security, VoIP, video, wireless and data solutions all in one place.

The addition of a tunnel-less VPN, also called the GET VPN, eliminates the trade-off between data encryption security and routing intelligence, according to Inbar Lasser-Raab, director of product marketing, network systems. A GET VPN features any-to-any security connectivity, supports advanced quality of service, and can be used for VPN and backup in various WAN environments, such as MPLS networks without point-to-point tunnels. Lasser-Raab said a tunnel-less VPN lowers latency, which improves voice and video application performance on large networks, while also meeting mandated encryption requirements.

In keeping with the growing trend of speeding WAN traffic and boosting application performance, Cisco also integrated WAN optimization and application acceleration into the ISR. Also added was a high-performance Network Analysis Module (NAM). Combined, the updates are designed to eliminate WAN bottlenecks and boost application performance to the branch.

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Lasser-Raab said Cisco's Wide Area Application Acceleration Services (WAAS) was integrated into the ISR to give companies increased WAN capacity and to optimize performance over their existing infrastructure. Along with WAAS, NAM digs into global WAN traffic and generates analysis of performance issues.

Lastly, Cisco added a new set of voice, video and collaboration services into the ISR to give customers lower cost and more secure communications, along with increased availability and enhanced applications. New services include Session Initiation Protocol trunking; consolidated voice, video and data on a single primary rate interface; secure Survivable Remote Site Telephone on Call Manager Express; integrated voice XML; and session border control.

Philip Skeete, CEO of Converge, a Houston-based managed service provider, uses ISRs -- namely the WAAS module -- to "deliver LAN-like services [to clients] without deploying servers to the site."

Deploying ISRs with various services lowers the overall TCO and management burden of having several different solutions in place, according to Skeete. He added that with WAAS, the performance is similar to that of a service that is hosted locally. Before deploying Cisco's ISR with WAAS to its client base, he said, Converge used a WAN optimization solution from Riverbed.

"What made it compelling," Skeete said, "was it tied in a lot of the same components we had in place before."