Although Cisco is always developing routers for the cores of enterprise and service-provider networks, now it is sending its technology farther from those cozy confines than ever before.
Cisco is unveiling a “go anywhere” router—the Integrated Services Router 819 M2M Gateway (designed for machine-to-machine networks) is the smallest member of the ISR family of branch routers and remote-office routers and is designed to withstand outdoor environments with extreme temperatures. Target markets (M2M market) for the device include truck fleets, tollbooths and ATMs (automated teller machines). The ISR 819 can also serve as a conventional router in a remote office, said Inbar Lasser-Raab, senior director of marketing for borderless networks.
Unlike most routers, the 819 relies mainly on cellular connections to reach the internet, and so can be installed in moving vehicles. It has space for two SIM cards so that it can be linked to two operators, for redundancy, and can use GSM, CDMA or W-CDMA. LTE connectivity may be added from next year, although most M2M applications require only low end wireless speeds.
The ISR 819, which weighs only 2.3 pounds (1 kilogram) and is thicker but smaller than a tablet, starts at US$1,600. A slightly larger, hardened version, which is waterproof and has a temperature range from -13 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (-25 to 60 Celsius), starts at $2,300.
M2M (machine-to-machine) networking is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years. Functions such as meter-reading, asset tracking and supply-level notifications can be automated through radios built into systems in the field, and wireless links can help to make it easier to network those devices.
As an example of how this type of device could work, a small wireless router in an ATM could send a signal when the amount of cash available in the machine fell to a certain level. It could immediately communicate over the cellular network to a similar router in an armored truck, and the driver of the truck would be given instructions to deliver more cash to that ATM.
Cisco said this was the first time it had produced a router for these types of markets that has all the features of the mainstream ISR line, such as stateful and application-inspection firewalls, encryption for VPNs, and optimized voice/video. In future, it expects such devices to be incorporated into products like ATMs by the manufacturers rather than being a separate platform.
What Analysts Said
There are 3G routers on the market from smaller vendors, but the fact that the 819 has the same software as Cisco’s other popular ISR models is likely to make it more attractive to enterprises that have already invested in Cisco.
Cisco is more dominant in the router market for small and medium-sized companies than it is even in other areas of switching and routing. But because so many features are built into it, the 819 may inspire new uses of remote routers in the future, he said. It will probably take less custom code and help from consultants to get a new use case off the ground. Having the collapsed service offering on a single device does breed simplicity and encourages creativity in deployment. —Mike Spanbauer of Current Analysis
A renewed commitment by mobile operators could also help to boost the use of machine-to-machine applications. Some carriers have been slow to support machine-to-machine because they were focused on keeping up with consumers’ use of mobile data on smartphones. M2M will be an important source of market growth now that almost all consumers have cellphones. —IDC analyst Rohit Mehra