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Cisco Opens the ISR

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is widening the scope of its Integrated Services Routers (ISRs) by opening the software to developers, creating the possibility of new branch-office applications that tap the network.

The Application Extension Platform (AXP), announced today, delivers on Cisco's previous hints about opening up its software. More important, it continues Cisco's push to make routers the origination point for services, increasing the importance of networking to an enterprise's business. (See Cisco Pumps Branch Offices.)

"It gets us closer to the network being -- and I hate to say it because Cisco talks a lot about this -- the next business platform," says analyst Nick Lippis of Lippis Enterprises .

It's a bit of a bounceback from the lean edge model, where applications have been moving out of branch offices and into the data center. AXP is meant to create a new set of applications residing at the branch, applications infused with knowledge about the network itself.

"For example, the applications can understand what the utilization on the network is. They can see packet loss or tell if a link is down," says Joel Conover, a marketing manager in Cisco's network systems group.

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