Cisco is to retire its 2600 series multi-service routers, one of its most widely-deployed WAN products for enterprise branches and mid-size businesses.

The company has said that it will stop selling 2600 series on 27 March 2007. However, support for the platform will be phased out slowly, with service and support to end on 25 March 2012.

The company is advising customers to upgrade to its Integrated Services Router (ISR) 2800 or 3800 series routers, which add built-in security and VoIP acceleration to standard WAN features. The 2600 series starts at around US$2,000, and baseline ISR 2800s cost between $2,800 to $3,000, depending on configuration according to Cisco.

The 2600 has been a workhorse platform for business networks and a cash cow for Cisco, with more than 2 million units sold. But the ISR line, introduced in 2004, has already reached more than $1 billion in sales for Cisco, and the vendor has shipped over 500,000 ISRs.

Cisco's ISR success is attributed to its older 1700, 2600 and 3600 series routers getting long in the tooth, as well as new features packed in as standard in the ISR. VoIP processing, data encryption offloading, and other security features are now built into the ISR, which had required either external modules for older routers, or chewed up processor and memory resources on the platforms.

While Cisco is the dominant vendor in enterprise and small-and-midsize-business WAN routing with more than 70 percent market share, it has seen a ramp-up in competition lately from Juniper, with the release of its SSG, an integrated Juniper WAN router and Netscreen firewall.