Cisco has released several devices for branch office customers, including two low-cost Integrated Services Routers that will work with 802.11n wireless networks.

The new Cisco 880 and 860 ISRs, designed for teleworkers and small offices, start at US$449 (£250) and are expected to ship in June, according to Dave Frampton, vice president of marketing for access routing technology at Cisco.

In addition, Cisco also touted hardware to support virtualisation of third-party applications in branch offices, beginning with Microsoft Windows Server 2008 apps. The device, called the Cisco Wide Area Applications Services WAE-674, is available now and starts at $16,000 (£8,000), Frampton said.

Cisco also announced three Linux-based Advanced Integration Modules for its Integrated Services Routers. The modules start at $1,795 (£900) and are shipping now. All are designed as part of the Application eXtension Platform (AXP) for application development, and a single module can support multiple applications concurrently.

HIG Capital, a private investment company in Miami, has been using the new AXP modules for 60 days as an early-release customer in support of a faxing application, said Luis Suarez, director of IT at HIG. By installing the WAE device, HIG avoided having to install another fax server in its data center, which would have taken up precious rack space, said Suarez.

"The price point was definitely affordable when you consider the alternative" of an additional server and lost data centre rack space, he said.

The module appliance sits in the WAN router infrastructure instead of the data center and took just two hours to configure, Suarez said, adding that he has been so impressed that he plans to buy two more for European operations in the next six to nine months.

Customers can use the WAE to accelerate the packets from centralised data centre applications as well as applications hosted at branch locations. Using virtualisation software in the unit, customers gain the flexibility to decide which applications hosted in a branch office should be "centralized" to the data centre and still offer high performance across the WAN, Cisco officials said.