Monday, April 14, 2008

Run Apps on Cisco ISR Routers

Earlier this month we joked that the Sguil project was acquired by Cisco, such that Sguil would be integrated into Cisco platforms. Cisco routers already run Tcl, but now thanks to Cisco's new Application eXtension Platform, other possibilities are developing. According to Optimize Branch Footprint with Application Integration, Cisco says:

  • Linux-based integration environment with downloadable Software Development Kit (SDK)

  • Multiple applications support with the ability to segment and guarantee CPU, memory, and disk resources

  • Certified libraries to implement C, Python, Perl, and Java applications

  • Supported by Cisco 1841, 2800, and 3800 Series Integrated Services Route


Sun used to say The Network is the Computer. Cisco now states The Network as a Platform. In other words, why deploy another server or appliance if you can just run it on your Cisco router?

I am unsure how this will play out. I figure Cisco just wanted to add to the confusion caused by virtualization with their own take on consolidating platforms. At some point I see one giant box (labelled Skynet probably) with a massive antenna to which we all connect our dumb terminals via wireless.

I'd like to get a Cisco 2800 series ISR router to try this out... donations are welcome. :)

5 comments:

One Guy Nick said...

I am curious to what level they will allow you to run and access the hardware. There are times where a 2811 will not run the routing protocols I need. I would love to throw quagga on the aXp board and deal with those shortcomings.

As security profesionals devices like these pose a pardigm shift. We think of full OS to be Linux, *BSD, MacOS, or Windows. Most technical implementation guides are written that these assets must posses AV and other NIST 800-53-ish controls. With the platform being so specialiazed yet so open, how do you deal with the implications?

firewalz said...

With all of this extra code and complexity more vulnerabilities are sure to arise. I do not like my routers and switches being webservers, proxies or anything but what they are, simple and single purposed (possibly dual)is the approach that I find works best for me. We have deployed 100's of 2811's and I’m not yet convinced that you can turn up more than a few features simultaneously without 1) running out of system resources or 2) having to complex a config to manage on a large scale

Anonymous said...

Cisco is trying to compete with Crossbeam by providing the "platform." As a security guy this stuff just looks like another box to secure, but instead of a single purpose box that can be checked via config and input / ouput monitoring we now have all the 'features' of a general purpose machine. Simple comparison - whats the difference between your audit checks for a router and a windows / linux host? I bet it's pages in lenght and hours in manpower.

seperation of duties? Ask Cisco and wave your hand in front of their eyes when you get the dear in the headlights response.

One of the technical guys I respect the most likes to quote "Let routers route, firewalls firewall, and hosts host."

firewaker said...

Wow, really surprised by the comments so far on this topic, reminds me of comments made when VMware was new to the world---too complex, extra layer of troubleshooting, unsecure. You can fight against the wind, or go with the flow…
Having deployed over 6000 2800 series routers running CME (Voip) and Firewall IOS I seen no problem mixing services, if configured correctly.
As for the single function devices, that fight was lost many years ago, security features, VoIP, the merging of IPS and firewall, WLAN on switches, etc... it’s a natural evolution that shortens the ROI.
Learn or die gentleman---then again the world always middle-level techs, or you can find a small shop.

Jim S said...

I thought this post was interesting, especially in light of Felix Lindner's talk at Blackhat in DC about Cisco IOS forensics.

http://www.blackhat.com/presentations/bh-dc-08/FX/Whitepaper/bh-dc-08-fx-WP.pdf

Do you think these kinds of developments will ultimately make the routing infrastructure a more attractive target for exploits or do you think this is no big deal?