Alliances keeps network management specialist moving up the application stack

Having built its fortune in routing the IP packets that traverse the Internet, Cisco Systems is focused on applying the same approach further up the application stack. A couple years ago, it planted the first stake with Application-Oriented Networking (AON), a set of products that provide a form of content-based routing prioritization, e.

07/01/2007


Having built its fortune in routing the IP packets that traverse the Internet, Cisco Systems is focused on applying the same approach further up the application stack.

A couple years ago, it planted the first stake with Application-Oriented Networking (AON), a set of products that provide a form of content-based routing prioritization, e.g., that specific ERP or CRM processes get passed before others on routers and switches. Although Cisco still lists AON products in its catalog, it hasn't been highly vocal about the strategy.

But make no mistake about it: Cisco's pattern of alliances and acquisitions during the first half of 2007 alone indicates the strategy remains very much alive and well.

For instance, Cisco and SAP extended their initiative to make enterprise applications more network-aware. Last fall, both companies concluded an alliance to jointly market governance, risk management, and compliance solutions. They followed that up this spring with a joint product development announcement around composite, service-based applications deployed through SAP's NetWeaver and Cisco's Service-Oriented Network Architecture (SONA). Not surprisingly, the first products of that alliance will be in the governance, risk, and compliance area, around which last fall's marketing agreement was based.

More evidence of Cisco's strategy to apply network management to applications, processes, and services can be found in its recent acquisition of XML firewall maker Reactivity, which has products for enforcing security policy in SOA environments at the perimeter. The result may be a budding turf war, as software development and IT infrastructure vendors also are vying for the space.

For instance, Cisco partner IBM bought Datapower, which has a rival XML firewall appliance. Layer 7 , another competitor with appliance and software-based XML perimeter offerings, claims that parsing XML is far more complex than routing low-level IP packets.

Barely a month after the Reactivity acquisition, Cisco added conference systems provider WebEx to the list. Although known primarily for networked meetings, WebEx is building itself as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that could rival Salesforce.com .

Cisco also remains busy on the alliance front as a partner in IBM's Management Services for Crisis Management front, which packages a business-continuity service with offerings ranging from tactical communications to a full SUV that will drive a portable back-up data center to your site. And it continues to resell Opsware 's Network Automation System, planting its stake in the IT infrastructure management market now dominated by BMC, CA, IBM, and HP.

Leveraging its four-year-old Linksys wireless router acquisition, Cisco concluded an agreement to wireless-enable WhereNet 's active RFID chips so their signals are pushed onto local wireless LANs, providing real-time location, messaging, telemetry, and communications useful for enterprise supply chain applications.

Addressing the annual Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit in New York in May, Cisco's Chief Development Officer Charles Giancarlo said the company would likely match last year's acquisition pace, which added 10 companies to the portfolio.





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