Cisco Turns Up the Apps Delivery Dial
At first glance, Applications Velocity, which is targeted at service providers and enterprises, looks like some souped-up software that's been integrated into the vendor's "Generation 2" routers. There's a new WAN optimization tool (WAAS Express), based on its IOS software, and an extension of the company's Unified Computing System that takes virtualization to remote locations such as branch offices. (See Cisco Boosts WAN Optimization.) WAAS (Wide Area Application Services), by the way, is already well established within the carrier community. (See Cisco Touts WAAS.)
All of this, says Cisco, plays a key role in its broader Borderless Networks pitch. (See Cisco Expands Borderless Networks.)
But it's more than that. It highlights a growing industry focus on the challenges of applications delivery in current and future carrier network architectures -- architectures that will include state-of-the-art data centers, applications server farms, and remote operations centers. In this context, applications delivery controllers, WAN optimization, and load-balancing tools will likely feature prominently in Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) systems, alongside policy control and real-time charging platforms. (See Telcos Still Need a Plan for Application Delivery and The SPIT Manifesto.)
And Cisco isn't the only vendor to have spotted the potential of advanced applications delivery systems: Blue Coat Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BCSI), Radware Ltd. (Nasdaq: RDWR), Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS), F5 Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FFIV), Ipanema Technologies , Solace Systems Inc. , Riverbed Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: RVBD), and Zeus Technology are all hammering at service providers' doors, while companies such as Array Networks Inc. are making headway in markets such as India. (See Colt Intros Apps-Centric SLAs, Array Grows in India, Blue Coat Tees Up 'Try-It' Service, Radware Intros New Alteon Switches, Radware's New Superhero, F5 Upgrades BIG-IP, Verizon Teams With Riverbed to Optimize Apps, and The Boy From Ipanema.)
So how is Cisco's Applications Velocity offering a "service"?
Well, it's a service enabler, really, as Cisco's "application-aware" technologies are designed to help enhance wide area network applications performance, something that's becoming more important, and harder to do, as virtualization gains acceptance and cloud services become more appealing from a service provider and enterprise user perspective.
Critically, for everyone in the food chain, it should help service providers better meet their service level agreements (SLAs), and so provide a better customer experience. And everyone wants that, however it's achieved.
But there's also an actual service element to Cisco's pitch, as the vendor is offering, as part of the Velocity package, "professional services to help organizations plan, build and run secure, highly scalable solutions to accelerate deployment of Application Velocity network services." Try saying that in one breath after a few martinis.
Cisco is keen to develop the support services side of its business in the same way that companies such as Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), and Nokia Networks have evolved from being box pushers to companies that, increasingly, can offer a mix of hardware, software, and professional support, including managed services. This looks like part of Cisco's push toward the greater promotion of its services capabilities.
— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading