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Cisco Opens the ISR

Craig Matsumoto

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is widening the scope of its Integrated Services Routers (ISRs) by opening the software to developers, creating the possibility of new branch-office applications that tap the network.

The Application Extension Platform (AXP), announced today, delivers on Cisco's previous hints about opening up its software. More important, it continues Cisco's push to make routers the origination point for services, increasing the importance of networking to an enterprise's business. (See Cisco Pumps Branch Offices.)

"It gets us closer to the network being -- and I hate to say it because Cisco talks a lot about this -- the next business platform," says analyst Nick Lippis of Lippis Enterprises .

It's a bit of a bounceback from the lean edge model, where applications have been moving out of branch offices and into the data center. AXP is meant to create a new set of applications residing at the branch, applications infused with knowledge about the network itself.

"For example, the applications can understand what the utilization on the network is. They can see packet loss or tell if a link is down," says Joel Conover, a marketing manager in Cisco's network systems group.

These applications run on their own cards (more on that later). This keeps them from affecting the ISRs' routing performance, according to Cisco.

Possibly the most significant aspect of AXP, though, is the freedom for software companies to tap into IOS themselves.

Cisco and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) are starting to open their software after years of keeping everything locked up tight. They're not exactly rushing towards openness -- Juniper, for example, is carefully parceling out its software access. But both companies are eager to talk about the possibilities of software vendors, or even customers, building their own applications to run on Cisco or Juniper cards. (See Juniper Opens Up to Apps Developers.)

Juniper announced its Partner Solution Development Platform (PSDP) in December. That happened to be the week of Cisco's analyst conference, and executives there noted that Cisco would be doing something similar, giving developers access to its software's application programming interfaces (APIs).

As with Juniper's PSDP, Cisco's AXP won't be a free-for-all. Cisco will certify ISV applications. But it appears Cisco won't control the program as tightly as Juniper does.

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:43:42 PM
re: Cisco Opens the ISR
ISR is a good marketing term 3 years ago, Not people looking for a UCR (unified communication router) which can support open architecture and provide more scalability. End user will be able to tune the router to support bespoke service.

However, the opening of ISR will unlikely to benefit the enterprise user as they are unlikely to have the capability develop something for themself. the Service provider will benefit a lot as now they can develop some bespoke service themself without share the code with they competitors.

In addition to that, Embedded software company may benefit a lot from it. Embedded company can now start to develop something very important to add some value to Router.

Still not sure whether cisco will allow a thirdparty developped hardware plug into cisco router?

In all, this is a good trend, at least cisco realize that proprietory system will not be able to dominate the market in the near future, it they do change, they will lost the market.

Pete Baldwin
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:43:40 PM
re: Cisco Opens the ISR
>In all, this is a good trend, at least cisco realize that proprietory system will not be able to dominate the market in the near future, it they do change, they will lost the market.

Well ... it's still a proprietary system. You'll just have a wider range of application choices, in theory. Whether it's truly a step in the direction of openness, we'll see.

As for third-party hardware ... I wouldn't hold my breath, although there's a long-term, longshot scenario where ATCA would eventually let you interchange blades between vendors' chassis. If Asian competition commoditizes the switch/router down into the dust, you might see that someday. I'm just babbling here; I'm not sure this would ever happen. But the early groundwork is in place.
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:43:39 PM
re: Cisco Opens the ISR
This sounds like a copy exact of the RVBD product that is supposed to house third party apps, like UTM. Is this coming out because RVBD has CSCO scared, or because CSCO has already crushed RVBD and are throwing sand in their face?
Pete Baldwin
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:43:39 PM
re: Cisco Opens the ISR
Shoulda guessed Vyatta would have an opinion:


They slag Juniper, too, so it's equal-opportunity.
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:43:38 PM
re: Cisco Opens the ISR

...in my humble personal opinion, if Cisco and Juniper want to gain more relevancy at the Application level, what they need to do is to do this in a service oriented way, which is what CEBP (mentioned in the article) is about. Why force applications to communicate with proprietary application examples residing in the branch on these processing blades? That approach will limit their scope, I think.

In the mid-term, the concept of enriching Enterprise's SOA application environments with network, communication and collaboration services is intriguing. If there are a bunch of good software developers out there, let's get together for beers after work these days and brainstorm a start-up... :-)
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:29:15 PM
re: Cisco Opens the ISR
Cisco's gone ahead and launched a contest around this,


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