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Monday, July 25 12:00 AM ET

Cisco Snares Last Bit of QOS Real Estate

By Randall King

San Jose , CA - Cisco has ensured the quality of service of their users through a slight modification to the existing IP Quality Of Service (QOS) standards. This new proprietary mechanism will ensure that all data originating on Cisco edge devices will be expedited over traffic from competing vendors' devices.

According to RFC 1349 there is a bit that is not currently in use called the "CU-Currently unused" bit. Cisco has redefined this bit within Cisco routers to mean "Cisco User." Traffic without this bit set will be sent to the end of any queue that is in operation within the router.

The diagram below shows the placement of the "Cisco User" bit in the RFC1349 ToS byte.


In order to ensure that other vendors do not simply set this bit themselves, Cisco has made extensions to the Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP) to ensure that the setting of the Cisco User bit from a neighbouring device can be trusted.

Cisco Chief Technology Officer Charles Giancarlo said, "The technology is very simple and is an obvious evolution in the development of IP quality of service. With our dominance of the Internet infrastructure, we are well placed to bring fairness back to the marketplace with this standard. It simply does not make sense that someone who has a cheap consumer router should get the same quality of service as someone who has bought a Cisco device."

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When asked whether the "Cisco User" bit would be extended to the LinkSys (a wholly owned by Cisco company) range of devices Giancarlo said that LinkSys users would be able to pay for a firmware upgrade to enable the CU bit.

Giancarlo said that this is stage 1 of the deployment; stage 2 will use the "Cisco User" bit for security purposes. When stage 2 is complete Cisco router managers will be able to have their router simply drop packets that do not have the "Cisco User" bit set. This will be enabled under the "Ciscoworks" network management package with a single dialog box. The dialog box simply asks "Do you wish to make your network secure? Y/N" making the activation quite simple.

"Clearly manufacturers without Cisco’s R&D capability cannot make devices as secure as Cisco. The future use of the CU bit will ensure the future security of the Internet," said Mr Giancarlo.

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