Cisco Systems is introducing software upgrades that boost the speed of and allow more concurrent users on some of its low-end PIX firewall appliances.
By virtue of a software upgrade, the performance of the two PIX firewalls, the PIX 501 and PIX 506E, jump fivefold. For example, PIX 501 firewall performance leaps from 10M bit/sec to 50M bit/sec with Cisco PIX OS version 6.3. The upgrade also adds support for advanced encryption standard (AES).
The company is introducing a software license for the PIX 501 that allows unlimited users. Previously, the top number was 50 users. The unlimited license costs $US1,000.
Boosting performance of these devices was important to Cisco because it faced competitors whose devices were based on custom processors and provided high speed at relatively low costs, according to a report by Current Analysis. WatchGuard and NetScreen, for example, relied on these application-specific integrated circuits.
Cisco is also announcing two new models, the PIX 515E-6FE and PIX 525-2GE, as its midrange appliances. The 515e-6FE features six independent 10/100 Ethernet ports for segmenting traffic as it goes in and out of the device. Similarly, the 525-2GE features two independent Gigabit Ethernet ports. They can be used to set up separate network segments known as demilitarised zones for servers that need to be isolated from the local network.
The 515E-6FE costs $US7500, and a pair of them that back each other up cost $11,000. For the 525-2GE, a single box costs $14,000 and a redundant pair costs $20,000.