Day two of Cisco Networkers 2008 got underway with a couple of important press announcements around the Cisco access network portfolio.
The headline news was the launch of enhanced Power over Ethernet (ePoE) capabilities for the Catalyst® switch family. This is aimed at allowing switches to feed the upcoming 802.11n generation of access points, which need extra power to deliver up to 300Mbps of connectivity. The switch detects whether additional power is needed using Cisco Discovery Protocol, which prevents it from overloading traditional devices. EPoE is shipping on Catalyst 3750-E and 3650-E Series switches and will be introduced into the 6500 and 4500-E Series towards mid-2008.
The day’s second press announcement actually concerned a product launched last year: the Cisco 3G Wireless WAN High-Speed WAN Interface Card (HWIC), which allows Cisco Integrated Services Routers (ISRs) to deliver connectivity over 2.5G or third-generation mobile networks.
At launch, the only tricky thing about HWIC was not every country had a mobile service provider that could provide a network. Now, though, more than 30 service providers worldwide have signed up for it, so it is much less of a problem to find one near you.
There was even one at the press conference, in the shape of Markku Lempinen, head of Corporate Network Solutions at Elisa Corporation of Finland, who said his company is offering the card for backup duties and also as a primary connection where a fixed-line connection is not worthwhile. Also there was Raymond Mohr, director of IT at Balfour Beatty Rail’s German operations, whose project teams frequently need to change quarters to keep up with progress along train tracks.
HWIC has made it easier to deliver high-speed connectivity to them; instead of finding suppliers and getting a connection installed, the IT team just delivers a small glass-fronted rack with an ISR and a Cisco 3G Wireless WAN HWIC.
What was interesting about both announcements was not only that Cisco is trying to offer new opportunities to its customers through small but significant advances in its portfolio, but also how these advances are often opening up potential new markets beyond those originally envisaged.