Cisco has developed products to improve the performance of applications on corporate networks by giving the network switches and routers the ability to process application protocols.
Application-oriented networking (AON) adds intelligence to the network to enable it to better understand business application communications. Cisco said this would support more effective and efficient business decisions.
Products based on AON will be generally available at the end of the year. They represent a shift in the role of a corporate network and the way routers and switches are deployed.
Analyst company Gartner said networks were becoming more intelligent. Vice-president and research fellow Roy Schulte said application design and IT management practices were changing in a fundamental way. He called this the enterprise nervous system (ENS), where 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,” said Schulte.
With AON, Cisco has developed products that move beyond translating network packets to read application-to-application messages flowing within the network. The company said AON could be applied in applications such as purchase orders, investment transactions or shipment approvals.
Bill Ruh, global practice director for AON at Cisco, said the products could be deployed in retail to manage the flow of information from RFID tags, in logistics to monitor movement of goods, in the public sector for web services, and in financial services.
AON works by capturing messages on the network and associating a policy with the message. Ruh said it could be used to convert an HTTP web form into SQL, which could be used by a database.
At a higher level, he said, AON could be used to enforce business policy such as ensuring that a purchase order over £10,000 had a valid digital signature.
The products include a graphical management console called AON Developer Studio, which allows network managers to configure AON devices to understand protocols such as Java Messaging Services, MQ Series and Soap.
As part of the AON strategy, Cisco is collaborating with other IT suppliers, including IBM and SAP.
Robert LeBlanc, general manager Websphere, IBM Software Group, said, “IBM’s collaborative efforts with Cisco in support of AON will allow Websphere and Cisco customers to reduce complexity, consolidate IT and improve performance.”
George Paolini, executive vice-president, platform ecosystem development at enterprise software supplier SAP, said the combination of SAP’s Enterprise Service Architecture and AON with SAP Business One would provide users with improved application security, easier application deployment and better integration, business visibility and network-based policy management.