Ciscos Application-Oriented Network, announced this week at its Networkers 2005 conference in Las Vegas, is the third part of the companys four-phased Intelligent Information Network initiative.
IBM and TIBCO are participating in the companys AON technology play that looks to place middleware functions usually found in software directly into the network.
To this end, Cisco will utilize IBMs WebSphere MQ messaging software and TIBCOs Enterprise Message Service messaging platform capabilities; both companies will build products that will enable AON to interpret messages sent by their respective middleware.
The basic concept with AON is to put messaging and routing capabilities into a network device, rather than having those capabilities available just at the middleware layer.
By extending messaging beyond software, users have another flexible input for SOA (service-oriented architectures), according to IBM.
"This is the first time weve looked at putting the packet level [messaging] into the network, so theres a much more intelligent understanding of whats in the message, instead of just moving the package from point A to point B," said Jeff Henry, director of WebSphere product management at IBM, in Armonk, N.Y.
Through the Cisco and IBM collaboration agreement, some aspects of IBMs WebSphere middleware will be integrated with Ciscos network infrastructure.
Separately TIBCO, of Palo Alto, Calif., will work with Cisco to add its SOA backbone to the network, to better enable AON to support intelligent decisions based on business and application needs, officials said.
TIBCOs EMS (Enterprise Messaging Server) platform helps users manage the flow of information through messaging functionality that combines both applications and communications technology on a single platform, according to TIBCO officials.
By combining messaging software with Ciscos AON infrastructure, users will have the ability to actually see events—for example, financial transactions—as they happen on the network.
The idea is that through network visibility, companies will have an easier time tracking business processes and ensuring security.
As a beta tester for Ciscos AON, Bob Coleman, president and chief operating officer of ManTech International Corp., integrated the AON software with an existing product the company developed for the federal government to handle the sharing of classified information.
The initial scope of adding AON was to help ensure a greater degree of some security policies and procedures, according to Coleman.
"If you look at what we do for customers—we design and develop a lot of solutions to identify and track terrorists and predict terrorist events—and expand that, we can take some of the intelligence in the database and expand that to the network," said Coleman, in Fairfax, Va.
"Right now, we have intelligence [professionals] reading messages and trying to draw relationships between entities. With that intelligence on the network, it would be able to draw that relationship."
Coleman said that AON is complementary to messaging software. "Whether it takes the place [of messaging middleware] over the long run, well have to see."
Cisco, of San Jose, Calif., describes IIN as a systems-based infrastructure for the intelligent movement of data, voice and video across a system of networks.