IP protocols/software

Cisco Turns Up the Apps Delivery Dial

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) lit a fire under the increasingly important applications delivery sector today by introducing a package that, the data networking giant claims, will help improve performance and speed up information delivery -- and, tellingly, it's calling its new launch a "network service."

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.)

Speedy service
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

ycurrent 12/5/2012 | 4:21:56 PM
re: Cisco Turns Up the Apps Delivery Dial

Support services is a good business with nice margins - ask Larry Ellison.  But the professional services pull through for vendors such as Cisco, ALU and others will be driven by transformations in service provider or enterprise architectures and processes. If applications velocity (and its "distant cousin" applications enablement) catch on, the vendor benefit will be in enabling the transformation, not the application.

Grenot 12/5/2012 | 4:21:53 PM
re: Cisco Turns Up the Apps Delivery Dial

Dear Ray,

Cisco's announcement is another evidence of a fundamental transformation that will shape networks'future. We progressively moved from lines to networks (the MPLS transformation) and are now moving from networks to applications delivery. The road, the motorway, the traffic. It is a so complex and important transformation that it will take a few years, but it will come anyway. For this transformation to be successful, traditional bottom-up approaches will not be sufficient. I trust that top-down, holistic and automated technologies like Autonomic Networking can be one of them, and play the key role of enabler by simplifying operations by several order of magnitude and ensuring scalability for the largest service providers installed base.

Thierry - CTO @ Ipanema

(May I suggest you change Martinis for pure malts?)

digits 12/5/2012 | 4:21:49 PM
re: Cisco Turns Up the Apps Delivery Dial


You are entering dangerous territory here.... malt vs martini.... I say neither -- let's go with the Caipirinha



Of course you need good quality roads and nice wide motorways that are well built to enable the best traffic, but in the end the roads will become much the same, and the key will be how to get the traffic from A to B the quickest and in the best shape, That's why Service Provider IT(SPIT) is now as important as the underlying infrastructure.

We are singing from the same drinks menu, methinks -- so cheers.... 

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