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Cisco targets centre stage for networks

Networking giant touts intelligent infrastructures that not only carry voice and data but act as middleware solutions to seamlessly tie end user applications together

Cisco plans to use this year’s show to further the marketing effort centred on its intelligent information network (IIN). The networking giant focused on the same subject last year, but feels this year it has more concrete examples to show to potential customers.

“Last year the theme for us across all of our stands and seminars was the IIN. For example, we were showing how IP phones could leverage XML technology to bring advanced applications to the enterprise,” says Yousef Khalili, regional marketing manager, Cisco Systems Middle East. “But last year a lot of people didn’t get the full extent of what we were saying about IIN. We had relatively few proof points to offer people. However this year, with the application oriented network (AON) initiative, this has radically changed.”

Cisco is seeking to emphasise the central place of the network in ICT and how it can be used to hold the world of applications and middleware together. This makes the recently announced AON strategy important.

The AON strategy represents Cisco moving beyond its traditional network heartland into the middleware sector. While its messaging solution will be hardware based, it could be the start of a major challenge by Cisco to players in the middleware sector.

With AON, Cisco is able to look beyond the packet level of information on the network and understand the application message. The technology can tell if a message contains a purchase order or a web form, and can assign policies accordingly. End users will be able to, for example, create one policy for purchase orders over US$10,000 and one policy for orders under US$10,000. This means users can benefit from integration at the application message level, which makes it easier for middleware to inter-operate.

The vendor plans to demonstrate AON and other technologies at Gitex as part of its plans to show it can deliver an effective data centre for the 21st century. Cisco will emphasise how virtualisation can be achieved through network-based technology, not just through servers.

“We will also emphasise our industry specific solutions,” says Khalili. “We will highlight a few key verticals and show how we can offer a full end-to-end solution catering to the needs of a business in this space. This will focus not just on technology but also on how Cisco can help companies address their business requirements,” he explains.

Cisco will also demonstrate technology resulting from its recent acquisition of Airespace. The vendor plans to unveil a string of Airespace products over the next year, starting with the recently released Cisco Wireless Location Appliance 2700. The device can track clients within a wireless LAN network and find any 802.11-enabled device, as well as any item equipped with 802.11 active RFID tags. Cisco’s Airespace strategy will also see it offer simpler and less expensive Wi-Fi management.

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