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Cisco's Integrated Services Routers Setting the Standard

World's most popular router breaks company sales record with more than 500,000 units sold in less than a year

October 3, 2005

by Charles Waltner, News@Cisco

Cisco Systems' Integrated Services Routers have become the fastest selling group of products in the 20-year history of the company. Since their debut in the fall of 2004, Cisco has sold more than 500,000 units, and demand for the Integrated Services Routers is accelerating. Cisco sold 100,000 of the units in the first six months, finishing the year with an additional 400,000 units shipped. At this rate, Cisco is poised to sell one million by next summer.

The popularity of the routers reflects the growing importance of Internet protocol-based networks for all types of business communications, including voice, wireless, and video, in addition to data. "Businesses need a lot more from their networks these days," says Jeffrey Pedersen, strategic alliance manager for Dimension Data, a global information technology services company. "There are a lot of different applications that they want to turn on, such as voice-over-IP, advanced security, wireless, and even video. Instead of buying many different devices to support those operations, they can use just one Integrated Services Router."

Pedersen notes that his company's customers have expressed very high satisfaction with the Cisco Integrated Services Routers, in no small part to the device's ability to process many functions without losing performance and throughput speeds. "You can right-size this router for any size company," he says. "It gives you services without sacrifice."

The Integrated Services Router family includes the Cisco 800, 1800, 2800 and 3800 series routers, covering a wide-range of performance and power to meet the needs of many business situations. The routers are particularly valuable for connections to the branch offices of larger corporations and for connecting the offices of smaller businesses. In both cases, the routers provide a wide range of expandable features adroitly combined in a single device, helping minimize installation and maintenance overhead.

Pedersen says the new Cisco routers are ideally suited to the increasing number of companies that have plans to converge all their communications systems onto a single IP network. "It's not a matter if you converge your networks, but when," he says. "Many companies recognize that is the direction they are headed but they don't necessarily want to do it all right away. The Integrated Services Routers gives them the option of getting a high-performance router now and expanding its capabilities as needed."

IdleAire Technologies Corp., Knoxville, Tenn., typifies the customers who have made the Integrated Services Routers the world's most popular networking products. IdleAire, which provides heat, air conditioning, television, phone, and Internet services directly to the cab of 18-wheel transport trucks stopped overnight at truck stops, has four regional hubs on its network, each one powered by a 3800 series Integrated Services Router. At each of the 25 truck stops where IdleAire has its services, the company uses the Cisco 2811 routers model to support its management applications, as well as carry the Internet and some of the voice traffic for its in-cab services.

Jon Duren, chief technical officer for IdleAire, says the power and integration efficiencies of the Integrated Services Routers has allowed him to expand the duties of the router without compromising the speed at which it processes traffic. Duren says this quality gives the new Cisco routers exceptional flexibility. For example, he has added software modules for advanced quality-of-service (QoS) control, specialized security, and detailed traffic monitoring.

"Thanks to the Integrated Services Routers, we were able to get rid of a lot of gear," Duren says. "These routers can do what it took two or three routers to do before. By being able to do everything we need on one router, we are running a much leaner, more cost-effective network. And it has far more capabilities to boot." Duren estimates his annual network maintenance costs have dropped 40 percent since installing the new routers earlier this year.

While the Cisco Integrated Services Routers have been a boon to remote location and branch office management for any size company, they are providing a cost-efficient boost to smaller businesses. "One word: manageability. That's my favorite part of the new routers" says Chris Kouzios, director of network services for SXC Health Solutions, a Milton, Ontario, Canada, a premier technology provider and a leading pharmacy benefit services organization. Kouzios says one of his staff members learned "on the fly" how to run telephone voice services over the Integrated Services Routers. "To me, that's incredible," he says.

The upfront costs of the new Cisco routers have also been a pleasant surprise to Kouzios. "At first we thought we would have to upgrade the network over three years because of budget limitations," he says. "But because the routers cost much less than we expected, we upgraded in only a year."

Now SXC Health Solutions, which runs five offices with 275 employees, is reaping many of the benefits of converged, IP-based communications, including $200,000 in savings from replacement of costly international data lines and use of intra-office and long distance telephone service over its IP network. And since installing the Integrated Services Routers earlier this year, they have performed flawlessly, "without a hiccup," Kouzios says. "Now we are spending more time helping customers rather fixing our own network."

Kouzios, who had previously worked as a network manager for larger companies, says he is excited to see Cisco take its industry-leading technologies for IP networking and tailor them to the needs of smaller businesses. "Cisco was always about the big companies, and we kind of felt ignored," he says. "But Cisco hit the nail on the head with the Integrated Services Routers. They promised a product for us and they delivered on it. That's enough to make me happy."

Charles Waltner is a freelance journalist in Oakland, Calif.

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