Cisco preps networks for the internet economy

In an effort to make the network more aware of the content, Cisco Systems on Monday announced ContentFlow, an architecture designed to enable the networking infrastructure to contend with the complexities of internet-enabled technologies, such as application and Web hosting services.

ContentFlow is a suite of services that manages content over a service provider's network including routers, switches, servers, caches, and internet appliances across dispersed data centres.

Content networking enables the network to provide global access to the Web and application content by deploying content tracking, content access, and flow management technologies.

"We are making the whole network truly more intelligent about content," said Cecil Christie, manager for services marketing at Cisco. "It is an issue that the whole network has to address, not just a point product like a load balancer. Single devices cannot address the broader issue of content access."

To deliver ContentFlow, Cisco has added Accelerated Load Balancing capabilities to the Catalyst 6000 switch to let service providers offer load balancing services as fast as 16Gbits/sec.

Toronto-based Platform Computing has worked with Cisco to develop enhancements to Cisco's Dynamic Feedback Protocol, which enables sophisticated communication between networking and computing infrastructures, making the network more intelligent about where content resides and what servers are available for use, officials at Platform Computing and Cisco said.

As part of its ContentFlow framework, Cisco is introducing its Content Verification System (CVS) and the Cisco Cache Engine 500 series.

CVS provides server and application probing capabilities to optimise server and content load balancing decisions. Using CVS, service providers can tie service availability to front-end Web applications and the databases that service those applications. The Cache Engine 500 series reduces WAN bandwidth usage, accelerates network performance, and increases Web site scalability by caching frequently accessed content.

"ContentFlow gives a framework for how [service providers] can evolve the existing internetwork they possess -- their piece of the internet -- to a content network," Christie said.

The Dynamic Feedback Protocol and the Content Verification System, available now, are included in Cisco's LocalDirector, which starts at $US10,000. The Cache Engine 500 series, also available now, starts at $5000.

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