Network company Vyatta has launched a router using open source to undercut Cisco's branch office flagship, the ISR 2800 and 3800 family. Meanwhile, a Vyatta executive has criticised Cisco's attitude to open source.

Vyatta's 2502 has eight times as much memory as the Cisco ISR, and costs $2,747 (around £1700), for functions Vyatta says are equivalent to the higher end Cisco 3800 product, which has a list price of more than $6000. It's like getting a Cisco 3800 for less than a Cisco 2800, with more features and functions to boot," said Kelly Herrell, chief executive of Vyatta.

The ISR has been one of Cisco's most successful product families, getting good reviews. since it was launched in 2004, and has sold more than five million units. It recently had a makeover to make it more attractive to service providers.

The Vyatta 2502 includes 2GB of RAM and two 250GB hard drives, and supports BGP, OSPF, and RIP routing, a stateful firewall, VPN, intrusion prevention, anti-virus and quality of service (QoS). It has WAN load balancing, WAN interface capabilities from ADSL to T3, and LAN interface capabilities up to 10Gbit/s.

Cisco actually uses open source software to build its products, but does not pass the cost savings on to customers, or deliver an open source product, said Dave Roberts, marketing vice president of Vyatta, on his blog.

"Cisco is going about its business making closed, proprietary systems but doing so using open source raw materials," said Roberts. "Cisco has a gross margin of 64 percent, one of the highest in the tech industry."

Vyatta's press release gives a practical spin to the benefits of buying lower cost products: "Our customers are smarter, better looking, and drive much nicer cars than purchasers of big-name products," says the standard company description at the bottom.