Content networks are designed to give users fast and reliable access to files and applications on multiple servers. When distributed across widely dispersed locations, they can improve a company's ability to keep its data services available in the event of a disaster.
The GSS 4480 Global Site Selector can resolve more than 4,000 Domain Name System requests per second and direct those requests based on a hierarchy of factors, said Cisco manager of technology marketing Mark Leary.
Those can include the user's location, server load, network congestion, any failures on the network, and whether the user has just entered the request or is being redirected after an interruption.
By carrying out those tasks, the GSS leaves the content switches free to perform local tasks such as directing requests to particular switches inside a data centre.
The GSS can work with similar devices from other vendors, such as F5 Networks' Big-IP.
Gartner analyst Mark Fabbi said companies would welcome that interoperability because, unlike in conventional data networking, many are still going to a variety of content-network vendors for the latest emerging technology.
Cisco also introduced the CSS 11501 Content Services Switch, aimed at data centres in small and medium-sized companies. The 11501 joins the CSS 11503 and 11506 models but has fewer ports and a lower price.
Built for a standard server rack and 1U (4.4cm) high, it comes in a fixed configuration with eight Fast Ethernet ports. Prices start at $10,995 (£6,830). A factory-installed Gigabit Ethernet port is optional.
A pair of switches, which can provide redundancy, is available for a limited time for $19,995.
The 11501 has the same software as the larger switches so it also can be used for small data centres within large enterprises.
The pricing of the new switch is aggressive, showing Cisco wants to make headway in this market, in which it is far from being a dominant player, Fabbi said.
Cisco has worked with server software vendors Siebel Systems and BEA Systems to determine the best configurations for Cisco content networks that run applications from those companies. They will offer the ideas to customers as part of joint marketing initiatives.
The GSS 4480 is available immediately for $19,995. The CSS 11501 will be available later this month.