“Adding intelligent application message handling to the network enables applications and the network to work together as an integrated system,” said Taf Anthias, vice president and general manager of the AON business unit. “It makes sense for us to collaborate on this initiative with IBM, given IBM's position in the application integration middleware market."
With SAP, Cisco is working to integrate AON and Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA) with the software giant's SAP Business One software.
“By combining ESA and AON with SAP Business One, we will have the ability to deliver significant customer benefits for parent companies and their subsidiaries, such as improved application security, easier application deployment and even better integration, better business visibility, and network-based policy management," said George Paolini, executive vice president for platform ecosystem development at SAP.
Cisco is also working with other services and software firms, including: Actional, ConnecTerra, Contivo, CXO, EDS, Infogain, ManTech, SAIC, Trace Financial, TransAct Tools, and Verisign to build additional add-on products and services to the AON architecture. Cisco has also established an AON partner support, training, testing, certification, and marketing services program.
"We expect to have other partners to announce as well," Cho said.
IT analysts said Cisco's move into more middleware-type products made sense.
“The nature of the enterprise network is evolving from a low-function communication service to a high-function enterprise nervous system (ENS),” said Roy Schulte, a vice president and research fellow at Gartner. “This is changing application design and IT-management practices in fundamental ways. In a conventional architecture, intelligent application systems interact through a low-function, fairly ‘dumb’ network," he said.
By contrast in an ENS-based architecture the network is as intelligent as the applications. The ENS offloads logic from the application systems by transforming and redirecting messages and providing other services as appropriate, Schulte added.