June 5, 2001 1:45 PM PDT

Cisco boosts networking technology

Cisco Systems is hoping to put some distance between itself and rivals with new technology being announced this week.

At the SuperComm 2001 telecommunications trade show in Atlanta on Tuesday, Cisco said that it has enhanced its family of Internet routers and developed new software that will allow telecommunications service providers to more easily manage a network built with Cisco's hardware. With the software, for example, service providers will be able to offer Net access to customers faster and without having to send technicians to their homes or businesses.

Analysts say the new software will save service providers money and help Cisco fend off rival networking companies such as Juniper Networks that are nipping at its heels.

Like Nortel Networks, Lucent Technologies and others, Cisco has been battered financially by the economic slowdown and slower spending by carriers and service providers. To woo customers, Cisco and its rivals have begun cutting prices on their products, but the companies also are touting new technology aimed at helping service providers generate new revenue.

"What Cisco is doing is blanketing the space with products with lots of new functions. And they're going to manage them all with a single system," said Michael Howard, an analyst at Infonetics Research. "Cisco has gotten smarter on how they build products. It's a more unified set of products."

Cisco on Tuesday announced a new XML-based add-on to its Internetworking Operating System (IOS) software, which runs the company's networking equipment.

XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a Web standard for information exchange that proponents say will reshape business-to-business communications. It not only allows customers to easily and cheaply conduct online transactions with their customers and partners, it also delivers sound, video and other data across the Web.

Cisco, however, is using XML to link together the company's new and existing networking equipment, so they can all be managed from a central location, Cisco representatives said. As part of the announcement, the company has begun shipping a new device, called the Cisco Intelligence 2100, to help service providers manage their networks.

Before the XML add-on, Cisco's customers had to manage each Cisco product line separately. "Now you'll be able to put it all together into a single system," Howard said.

Cisco on Tuesday also announced five additions to its family of Internet routers, technology that ships Internet traffic from point to point on a network at high speeds. The high-end routers will help the company to better compete against rival Juniper, which has captured 38 percent of the lucrative market to Cisco's 59 percent.

The new Cisco 12406 router offers the same performance as Cisco's other high-end routers, but is smaller, analysts say. The product is aimed at service providers with limited space. High-end routers sit at the "core" part of the service provider network, where the brunt of Internet traffic travels through.

Cisco also announced a more compact version of its Cisco 10000 family of routers, devices used to build networks in the area where service providers connect businesses to the Net.

The company released a higher-capacity version of its optical equipment for metropolitan areas, an exploding market that includes rivals Nortel, Lucent, Foundry Networks, Extreme Networks and others. Cisco's optical equipment, called the ONS 15454, features an OC-192 interface, technology that ships Internet traffic at 10 gigabits per second.

The networking giant announced two better-performing routers in its 7000 line of products, which are designed to help service providers provide Net access to businesses. The new 7400 router, for example, can support a variety of high-speed Net connections, including digital subscriber lines (DSL), cable, ISDN and T1 services, Cisco executives said.

 

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