Cisco adds 'tunnel-less' VPN to routers

Cisco Systems Inc. Monday announced the addition of "tunnel-less" virtual private network technology and several other improvements to its family of integrated services routers (ISR), which are widely used in branch offices.

The new VPN technology allows secure transport of data in a variety of WAN environments without the need for point-to-point tunneling, said Inbar Lasser-Raab, Cisco's director of product marketing for the ISR line. Tunnel-less transport lowers latency to improve the performance of voice and video applications in large networks, she said.

Cisco intends to work with standards bodies to standardize its technology, which it calls Group Encrypted Transport (GET), Lasser-Raab added.

Other changes to the routers include an improvement in the throughput of the ISR services engine, from 40Mbit/sec. to 100mbit/sec., Lasser-Raab said. Cisco has also integrated its Wide Area Application Services technology in the ISR products to enable increased WAN capacity, and it added a Network Analysis Module that's designed to give IT staff visibility into WAN traffic conditions and performance.

In addition, the routers can now connect to cable broadband systems, Lasser-Raab said.

Rob Whiteley, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., said that, of the innovations announced by Cisco, the GET VPN the most important for IT managers because it will simplify the process of setting up VPNs -- especially for companies that are adding a number of offices proliferate. For example, instead of setting up a network tunnel to each of 50 people in a branch office, a user could employ the GET approach to create a single group domain, he said.