Cisco unveils application network services

Cisco Systems Tuesday announced Application Network Services (ANS), a network-based technology designed to improve software performance.

The ANS software will operate inside Cisco's routers, switches and other hardware to bolster the ability to deliver ERP, CRM, financial and other enterprise applications to large businesses, according to a statement from Cisco's chief development officer, Charles Giancarlo. The announcement was timed to coincide with Cisco's 11th annual Worldwide Analyst Conference in Santa Clara, California.

"Cisco is helping customers to achieve greater utilization and effectiveness of their IT investments," said Giancarlo, who is expected to describe the ANS concept in more detail at a briefing Tuesday. "Our latest advanced technology ... builds on Cisco's understanding of networked applications to increase enterprises' return on their IT investments. Application Networking Services enhance the deployment, operation and delivery of business applications to increase the productivity of IT and of users across the extended enterprise."

ANS works over Cisco's new Service-Oriented Network Architecture (SONA) and works to improve middleware in moving applications, he said.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group Research in Boston, said he had been briefed on SONA and ANS but came to the conference this week to learn more. He said both technologies work with SOAP and other Web services languages, but they need to be fully explained.

Some customers whom Kerravala said he talked with about ANS and SONA wondered whether the technology really improves application performance to incorporate ANS and SONA inside network hardware elements. "Some question if it's even rational," he said.

CEO John Chambers is expected Tuesday to announce ANS as the ninth of Cisco's "advanced technologies." Advanced technologies, part of a category that includes wireless LAN products that Cisco says fit into its long-term technology vision, have the potential to grow to US$1 billion in revenue for Cisco over the next five to seven years. The other eight advanced technology areas are digital video, enterprise IP communications, home networking, hosted small-business solutions, optical networking, security, storage area networking and wireless technologies.

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