Cisco Branch Office Connectivity Solutions

Communication becomes challenging for small- and medium-sized companies with branch offices, warehouses, or business partners located in various geographical areas. These companies frequently need to share customer information, check inventory, look up sales data, transfer files, process invoices, and exchange e-mail. The integration of voice and data traffic over shared WAN lines can save companies significant amounts of money. Still, a dispersed organization cannot communicate effectively and efficiently without the right technology.

Customers in need of branch office connectivity solutions require the following:

• Cost-effective branch office connectivity solutions that combine application availability with fast and timely access to business information, to increase productivity and stay competitive

• Low cost of ownership to control wide-area connections and ongoing management costs

• Scalability to protect investments and allow for expansion

• Reduction of WAN line costs by integrating voice and data traffic over shared lines

Branch Office Connectivity Considerations

This section covers branch office connectivity considerations.

WAN Connectivity Flexibility

A central site solution should have a modular design that can accommodate many different types of WAN connections with remote locations. In addition, this solution should meet bandwidth and usage connection time requirements.

WAN service options for branch office connectivity include these:

• ISDN leased lines for a high-bandwidth, cost-effective solution for companies requiring light or sporadic high-speed access to either a central office or a branch office

• Frame Relay or X.25 for companies needing more permanent connections

• Leased-line solutions in which higher connection times and shorter distances are generally more cost-effective

WAN Optimization Features

Because some WAN charges (such as ISDN) are based on usage, it is important that companies have a solution that can implement features to optimize bandwidth and help keep WAN costs to a minimum. Bandwidth-on-demand (BOD), dial-on-demand routing (DDR), snapshot routing, Internetwork Packet Exchange (IPX) spoofing, and compression keep WAN costs to a minimum.


Ensuring that central site and branch office data remains secure is an important consideration for these reasons:

• Access lists can filter out unauthorized data flow between offices.

• Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) network links, Password Authentication Protocol (PAP), and Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP) can identify the remote entity to prevent unauthorized network connections.

Branch Office to Central Site Solutions

For simplified management and to ensure full interoperability, customers should consider vendors that have solutions for both the branch office and the central site. Figure E-1 shows sample branch office connectivity solutions.

Figure E-1 Cisco Branch Office Connectivity Solutions

CiscoWorksD Windows

CiscoWorksD Windows

Cisco 2600 Series

Cisco Solutions for Branch Offices

Cisco offers a wide range of router products that are perfect for the branch office. These branch office routers support the same comprehensive set of Cisco IOS features that are available with the central site routers.

The Cisco 2600 router provides a cost-effective solution for extending data/voice integration, dial concentration, and virtual private network (VPN) access to remote branch offices.

The Cisco 2500 series of access routers is the world's most popular line of branch office routers. Its broad range of models provides a wide variety of connectivity options, level of technology integration, and price points.

The multifunctional Cisco 2505, 2507, and 2516 models deliver the capabilities of a manageable Ethernet 10BaseT hub and router in the same box. By eliminating multiple standalone network devices, clumsy cabling, and complicated installations, these versatile routers are ideal for deployment in remote office locations. The Cisco 2516 also offers an ISDN BRI port that can be used as a backup link, to allow flexibility for disaster recovery and additional BOD.

The Cisco 2501-4 and 252x models offer the flexibility, performance, and redundancy of dual serial interfaces and the option of ISDN BRI.

The Cisco 2513, 2514, and 2515 models double the LAN interfaces of the Cisco 2501-4 models to two Ethernet or Token Ring interfaces, or one of each. These models give branch offices a cost-effective way to segment existing LANs for faster network response and to provide firewall applications to improve security.

The Cisco 1600 series represents a class of routers optimized for small branch offices. It contains a feature set that matches the concerns customers have today over the need to protect investments, flexibility in WAN service choices, feature support for multimedia, and enhanced security functions. In addition to providing IP, IPX, and AppleTalk routing protocols, the Cisco 1600 series also includes enhanced features unique to Cisco: This includes Network Address Translation (NAT), which lets customers use any IP address in the internal network; and generic routing encapsulation (GRE) tunneling, a scheme for tunneling traffic between networks, allowing customers to create virtual private networks. With a WAN interface card slot and support of multiple WAN technologies, the Cisco 1600 ensures investment protection as customer needs change and different services are required.

The Cisco 1605-R router has two LAN ports, which allows a customer to securely segment a LAN. For example, a school could have the student LAN separated from the administration's LAN. The Cisco 1605-R is also ideal for connecting small offices with two Ethernet LANs to the Internet.

The Cisco 1600 series also supports the Cisco ClickStart interface, a Web browser application that makes the routers easy to install, configure, and manage. In addition, it supports ConfigMaker, an easy-to-use Windows application for initial configuration of a single device or multiple 1600s.

Both the Cisco 2600 and 1600 series routers offer a range of optional WAN cards, including serial (asynchronous and synchronous), ISDN BRI (with or without an integrated NT1), 56/64 kbps four-wire DSU/CSU, and T1/Fractional T1 DSU/CSU.

The Cisco IOS Firewall feature set, available on Cisco 1600 and 2500 router platforms, provides an advanced security solution for Cisco IOS software, with rich application support, failover, and encryption in a single device. The Cisco IOS Firewall feature set provides full multiprotocol routing, WAN access capabilities, and seamless integration with existing Cisco IOS environments.

Cisco Solutions for the Central Site

Cisco Systems offers a range of central site products ideal for connecting branch offices. The Cisco 4500/4700 series and the Cisco 3600 series offer network administrators modular, flexible solutions that will meet changing needs as a company grows while also preserving its investment. In addition, these routers support extensive features to increase WAN security and reduce WAN costs.

The Cisco 4500 and 4700 series access routers are high-performance, modular central site routers that support the most comprehensive set of LAN and WAN technologies with network interface modules (NIMs). Their modular design allows easy reconfiguration as needs change. A full range of high-speed connectivity options are available, including Fast Ethernet, ATM, High-Speed Serial Interface (HSSI), and FDDI.

The highly modular Cisco 3600 series access servers provide amazing versatility to support branch/central site dial access applications, LAN-to-LAN or routing applications, and multiservice applications in a single chassis.

The Cisco 3640 has four network module slots, and the Cisco 3620 access router is equipped with two slots that accept a variety of mixed-media or WAN network modules, including one slot that supports dual Ethernet and dual WAN ports. Multiservice applications are supported by integrated voice network modules.

The Cisco 3600 series routers offer a range of optional WAN cards, including serial (asynchronous and synchronous), ISDN BRI (with or without an integrated NT1), 56/64 kbps four-wire DSU/CSU, and Tl/Fractional T1 DSU/CSU.

All Cisco access routers incorporate the industry-leading Cisco IOS software.

Cisco IOS software supports robust multiprotocol routing and provides enhanced support for multimedia and features to reduce WAN connection costs. Data compression and multiple traffic prioritization techniques ensure that critical data is accommodated. Dialup costs are minimized with features such as protocol spoofing, snapshot routing, NSLP route aggregation, DDR, and BOD. Comprehensive authentication and authorization allow only approved traffic onto the network, and event logging, audit trails, encryption, virtual private networking functions, and NAT provide additional network security. Support for protocols such as Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) and Resource Reservation Protocol (RSVP) makes Cisco routers ideally suited to meet the demanding needs of audio and video services.

Cisco Management Solutions for Branch Office Connectivity

All Cisco access routers are manageable by the CiscoWorks Windows software, a comprehensive, Windows-based network management system with these characteristics:

• Based on the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) industry standard

• A powerful set of network management tools for easily managing Cisco products

ConfigMaker is a free GUI-based Windows 95/NT tool for initial configuration of Cisco 1000, 1600, 2500, 2600, and 3600 series routers.

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