Cisco Refreshes ISR, Promises Big Performance Gains

At the core of Cisco’s traditional networking business is its networking routers —
and specifically the popular ISR (Integrated Services Router), which has sold more than 7
million units. Now the ISR is getting a major refresh with a new generation of routing,
processing, video and scalability features.

Cisco’s router enhancements comes on the heels of a pair of major multibillion-dollar
acquisition bids in areas adjacent to its core network routing business — for telepresence player
4G wireless technology player Starent

But for now, it’s back to its roots for Cisco, with the ISR “generation two” (G2)
refresh as part of a larger Cisco effort to revamp its networking portfolio for what it
calls the area of “borderless networks” — an idea that hinges on divorcing software from
hardware to enable easy-to-manage virtual services.

“We are bringing together routing, switching, mobility, security, WAN optimization and
some of our green technology into a single solution set that we will deliver,” Inbar
Lasser-Raab, director of marketing for Cisco’s Network Systems solutions, told “The first step is the ISR G2 that implements a lot of those

first-generation ISR platform
came out in September 2004 and offered users the
ability to plug in add-on module blades that provided additional services and

With the G2 platform, the module approach is getting revamped, as is the core services
functionality on the platform itself. Using a technology called the Services-Ready
Engine, Cisco is going to be expanding its services with a general-purpose computing
platform integrated into the ISR G2.

“We have the capability of plugging in a general-purpose compute engine that will
allow customers to take both Cisco services and partner services and be able to customize
applications and deploy them,” Mick Skully, vice president of product management for
Cisco’s Access Routing Technology Group, told “It’s a true
‘branch in a box’ that includes both communications, service and compute capabilities
associated with a branch environment.”

One of the popular modules that Cisco has had in the market for ISR users is the
Application eXtension
Platform (AXP) Linux server platform
. Previously, users could run applications on top
of a Linux operating system provided on the AXP module. With the new Services-Ready
Engine, AXP as a service will continue — though there will be no need for a separate

“The difference between the new iteration and the older one is before you had to order
an AXP module, and that was hard-coded,” Lasser-Raab said. “Now you just buy the service
engine and if you want the AXP capability, it’s an option you can add on later.”

Adding such capabilities is now far more simpler and quicker. Skully said that with
the first-generation edition, ISR customers were forced to order the service software
they wanted from Cisco and then have it installed on their hardware. With ISR G2, the
product includes a single software image, enabling Cisco to use a license key to unlock
platform features when purchased.

Because processing can now take place on the ISR G2 itself, AXP isn’t the only module
that’s being phased out. Read the rest at

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