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Cisco To Integrate Applications With Networks

LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- No longer content to just help move packets around, Cisco Systems now wants to let its networking hardware talk directly to the application information inside those packets -- which the company hopes will produce better results for customers, and more cash for Cisco.

At its user and partner conference here, Cisco on Tuesday [June 21] officially unveiled a strategy called "Application Oriented Networking (AON)," which will attempt to embed what Cisco calls "intelligent application message routing" technology directly into Cisco's networking gear. The new technology, Cisco said, will allow the network to make routing, security and administrative decisions based on application-level information, in a manner faster and cheaper than current implementations, which can include multiple layers of hardware and software.

The AON plan appears to be Cisco's long-term strategy for a developing networking market trend, where networking devices are able to look deep into the packets
in data streams and make administrative decisions about routing, security and application performance without affecting application or network performance. It is an area Cisco has been active in via acquisitions, including its purchase last month of application-security specialist FineGround Networks.

Such devices are becoming increasingly important to service providers and large enterprise users (two of Cisco's biggest customer groups) because of the performance, security and administrative problems raised by networks and applications that span wide geographic areas and cross multiple network boundaries. The AON announcement here at Cisco's Networkers user event also provides a competitive answer to Juniper Networks' announcement earlier this year to purchase two independent vendors, Peribit Networks and Redline Networks, in the same technology arena. Citrix Systems also recently said it would purchase NetScaler, another previously independent entrant in the application-acceleration arena.

Cisco CEO John Chambers told a packed-house crowd Tuesday at his keynote speech that the AON architecture represents "one of the most fundamental changes of IT in my lifetime." Having application intelligence in the network, Chambers added, "changes IT forever."

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