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Cisco Packs Security Options in Appliances

Dedicated devices built into core networking products help keep intruders out

Cisco Systems last week gave business-technology managers two options for improving network security: a new line of dedicated security appliances that combine a firewall, VPN, intrusion prevention, and anti-virus technologies into a single device; and new integrated-services routers that combine security capabili- ties with network routing and switching.

"They've got a dual approach," says Andrew Braunberg, a senior analyst with market-research firm Current Analysis. "Either way, the market is clear on the benefits of consolidating disparate security products."

"Security has to be completely pervasive across the network," said Cisco CEO John Chambers in a keynote address at the Interop show in Las Vegas, where the appliances and routers were introduced. "It has to be like the human body. It has to be self-defending."

Cisco's Adaptive Security Appliances, ranging in price from $3,495 to $16,995, combine a variety of security products and applications into a single device that's designed to be easy to deploy and manage and cheaper than buying multiple security products, the company says.

The appliances include Cisco's Anti-X defenses to suppress worms, viruses, denial-of-service attacks, and other threats. They protect networked business applications such as voice over IP and databases, and help control peer-to-peer applications, Internet access, and instant-messaging usage. And they can be used to unify security management of Cisco devices and security services from other vendors.

Cisco also expanded its line of routers with built-in security capabilities (see story, Cisco Adds Integrated Routers). Cisco executives say they're offering two approaches because some businesses like combining security with core networking products, while others want to keep the two separate.

Vendors such as Check Point Software Technologies, Fortinet, and Juniper Networks have dedicated security devices that integrate a variety of security capabilities, analyst Braunberg says. "Cisco isn't being an innovator here," he says. "They're following where the market has been heading for a while."

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