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Cisco ASA Firewall, VPN, and Security Solutions

By Chris Bricker  posted April 9th, 2012 at 3:12PM EDT

Cisco’s ASA security appliances combine a number of security features previously handled by separate types of servers:

  1. Intrusion detection
  2. Email filtering
  3. VPN connectivity
  4. Outbound monitoring and filtering

Not all ASA appliances do all these things – their functionality depends on:

  1. The license
  2. The optional hardware and related software licenses

It can get kind of complicated. Small offices use the ASA5505-BUN-K9, with licensing for different numbers of inbound VPN connections.

Inexpensive SFP-Based Fiber Switching by Cisco

By Chris Bricker  posted April 9th, 2012 at 3:07PM EDT

Companies are increasingly using fiber networking, even to endpoints (computers, servers, printers, etc). One problem with this is that most switches assume copper networking to endpoints and fiber networking to the core. So most switches have 10/100 or 10/100/1000 copper ports with 2-4 SFP or other fiber uplink ports (1G or 10G).

What to do if a company wants to use 100% fiber? You can always consider a modular router – Cisco has long had 24 to 48 port fiber boards that can be installed in 4000 and 6000 series switches.

Cheap Transcoding with Cisco AS5400 and AS5350 Access Servers

By Chris Bricker  posted April 9th, 2012 at 3:02PM EDT

Cisco “XM” line of AS5X servers (AS5350XM and AS5400XM) have been touted as major steps up in providing IP-to-IP transcoding, sometimes referred to as ‘softswitch’ functionality. The term softswitch denotes voice/video/data processing entirely on an IP basis – it completely avoids taking or handing off traffic to the phone system or to digital or analog phone lines.

Enterprising service providers can make use of ‘last generation’ technology, however.

Choosing The Right Switch - Learn How

By Chris Bricker  posted November 29th, 2011 at 4:30PM EST

One of the things you might criticize Cisco for is the confusing proliferation of switches. Not only are there obscurely named switch models that sound similar but are quite different, but Cisco's new 'integration' direction means that switching capabilities can be added to many (most) routers, and many of Cisco's integrated devices (like the Cisco UC 500 Series) have switching built-in.

On top of that, many of Cisco's older model switches are perfectly good for many functions, buy create even additional confusion because of their naming.

Access Servers - New Features and Restrictions - The Inside Scoop

By Chris Bricker  posted November 29th, 2011 at 4:11PM EST

The Cisco AS5 Access Servers line have been the standard of data, voice, video, and fax gateways for years. Whether used for origination, termination, transcoding, or with SS7 (Cisco PGW Systems), the various AS5X gateway (AS5300/AS5350/AS5400) series servers continues to provide industry-leading value. While that isn't changing, developments by Cisco means more thought is needed in choosing both hardware and software.

This is - first - because of Cisco's new PVDM2 DSP hardware, which can be used only in the newest 'XM' gateways, and only with certain IOS versions.

IP PBX UC500 Telephony Systems - Cisco Leads the Way

By Chris Bricker  posted November 22nd, 2011 at 10:42AM EST

While Cisco's recent product stumbles are well known, the UC500/520/540 (unified communications) series has been exceptionally well received. Many companies have traditional PBX systems. The Cisco UC 500 Series provides an IP based PBX type phone system that combines security, routing, and switching in an integrated, affordable package suitable for nearly all smaller business and offices.

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