Promising "dial tone for applications," Cisco CEO John Chambers introduced the company's latest enterprise apps-focused business unit to a crowd of company faithful this week.
Chambers used the Networkers 2005 user conference to introduce the vendor's Application Oriented Networking (AON) business unit. He also touched on forthcoming XML-focused AON gear that integrates middleware functions into Cisco hardware. Over 7,000 attendees, the majority of them Cisco customers, attended the show at the Las Vegas Convention Center this week.
Calling AON "one of the most fundamental changes in the industry in the last decade," Chambers described AON as the way to make Cisco routers and switches, and the applications that pass through theses boxes, to act as a unified system.
Products introduced include a module for the Catalyst 6500 switch that parses and secures XML, IBM MQ and other message-based traffic. A blade for the Integrated Service Router (ISR) adds these, and RFID traffic acceleration services, for branch offices. This gear integrates with applications deep into the text of Web services packets, with the ability to identify language in XML messages -- for example, identifying customer names and dollar amounts in an electronic purchase order, and rerouting or accelerating traffic based on such data, as opposed to IP or HTTP addresses in packets.
Chambers likened networked applications to the early days of the phone network, where callers contacted human operators, who in turn connected them manually to the people being called. Presently, XML traffic must be parsed and interpreted in software running on servers, which can bog down traffic. Moving this function to the network eliminates this intermediary processing level, he adds.
"AON is like dial tone was to the telephone industry," Chambers said. "It allows you to connect to what's important to you."
Stopping short of calling AON Cisco's next US$1 billion market opportunity, or "Advanced Technology" area, Chambers hinted that AON will be a major initiative for Cisco. A slew of software partners -- such as IBM, Tibco and SAP -- were introduced along with AON. These firms will work to make pieces of their middleware and ERP software run more smoothly on AON gear.
Chambers said the industry can expect to see Cisco announce more new technology areas "every three to four months" in the coming fiscal year.