Cisco boosts enterprise edge router

Cisco is also launching a $100 million initiative to better penetrate the small-to-midsize business market

Cisco this week is announcing an enhanced enterprise edge router with a higher-speed processor and launching yet another initiative to better penetrate the small-to-midsize business market.

Cisco's ASR 1000 Series 20Gbps Embedded Services Processor (ESP-20G) doubles the service processing rate of the ASR 1000, which debuted in March and has 250 customers. The ESP-20G also features software designed to increase application control and performance.

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Cisco is also expected to unveil a new service provider ASR edge router next week.

The ESP-20G is designed to boost performance for globally dispersed companies using video, collaboration and security services. The doubled performance and improved scalability is intended to address WAN edge requirements for remote workforces so they can reliably and securely access business applications, Cisco says.

The ESP-20G module features integrated firewall, VPN, and Network Access Translation services with up to 20Gbps throughput, up to 8Gbps IPSec encryption, and up to 10,000 VPN tunnel services, Cisco says. Application performance and control enhancements include optimization for business applications such as ERP and CRM, and Network Based Application Recognition to help customers identify, prioritize, limit, or block more than 60 applications, including Skype and instant messaging.

The module also includes multi-gigabit Layer 2--7 "packet matching" for network threat control, and simplified configuration, management and troubleshooting tools.

The ESP-20G joins the already available 5Gbps and 10Gbps ESPs for the ASR 1000 line, and is based on the same QuantumFlow processor as its predecessors. Specifically, the ESP-20G serves as a centralized forwarding engine for Cisco's ASR 1004 and ASR 1006 routers, providing silicon- and hardware-based assistance -- such as traffic policing, 8Gbps encryption, and jitter- and latency-minimizing multicast packet replication -- to sustain high bandwidth and throughput, Cisco says.

The ESP-20G is available at a list price of $50,000.

Cisco zeroes in on SMBs
Separately, Cisco announced a $100 million investment in product development, service, and support for businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Cisco says this is a $10 billion market globally.

Cisco formed the new small business technology group (SBTG) to execute the strategy. Senior Vice President Ian Pennell will lead the group and help direct a new Small Business Council with Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President Sue Bostrom, and Senior Vice President of worldwide channels, Keith Goodwin.

Cisco did not disclose how many employees would be dedicated to SBTG but said it "sits within a new holistic organization comprised of sales, marketing, services and technology groups that will focus solely on the small business segment."

All new small business offerings will be named "Cisco Small Business" or "Cisco Small Business Pro," with Pro products designed for customers with more sophisticated technology needs, according to Cisco. Small Business will be sold through retail channels, while Pro will be sold through value-added resellers, integrators, and service providers.

And if Pro sounds familiar, it is; 13 years ago, Cisco launched the CiscoPro branding and low end play to tepid success. CiscoPro was gone only a few years later.

This one is different, says Mark Monday, vice president of product marketing in the SBTG.

"This is a focus around an opportunity vs. a repackaging of products," Monday says, adding that the $100 million investment will back the plan up with dedicated products, sales leadership, and support. Cisco vice president Andrew Sage will oversee a new small business sales organization, the company said.

The first Cisco Small Business products are scheduled to be available in December and will be focused on video surveillance, data storage, and wireless office communications.

As part of the push, Cisco is recertifying 9,000 of the combined 60,000 Cisco and LinkSys channel partners as SMB Specialists, Monday says. The company will also operate dedicated call centers in South Carolina, Philippines, China, and sites in Europe to provide small business customers with 24/7 technical assistance in Dutch, French, German, Spanish, English, Italian, Russian, Polish, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, and Arabic.

The company will also oversee a new Web site and online community space for SMB partners and customers.

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This story, "Cisco boosts enterprise edge router" was originally published by Network World.