Cisco Drives into Applications Space

Networking giant Cisco opens its doors for third-party developers and customers to start designing apps to be integrated with its ISR technology.

Cisco Systems is pushing further into the applications space by opening out selected routers and services to third-party application developers and customers.

The Cisco ISR (Integrated Services Router) and WAAS (Wide Area Application Services) are now open to application integration as part of Cisco's Empowered Branch initiative, which it launched in 2007. Cisco has launched the Cisco Application Extension Platform, providing open, Linux-based ISR hardware modules for application development.

Cisco CEO John Chambers said the network is not longer just about plumbing. "It's also about application integration, and the branch is where we can bring everything together and touch the customer," he said.

Cisco said the number of branch offices grows every year by 11 percent and now between 70 and 90 percent of employees work outside of a company's headquarters.

Inbar Lasser-Raab, senior director of access routing and switching at Cisco, said the company has made a support kit available to developers, including an SDK (software development kit) and APIs, and it already has several applications from third parties with products that are available today, in verticals such as financial services and health care.

Click here to read more about Cisco's offerings for branch offices.

One company already using the ISR with custom applications is CCE (Coca-Cola Enterprises, the largest distributor, marketer and producer of Coca-Cola products in the world. The company, which has 440 different locations and 73,000 employees, is standardizing on Cisco technology, according to CCE CIO Esat Sezer.

CCE has deployed what it calls Voice Pick, which allows people in its warehouse to choose the correct orders via a voice instruction. The orders are then loaded onto trucks and shipped out. "Our accuracy rate for getting this right used to be 78 percent. With Voice Pick, this is now 99.8 percent," Sezer told eWEEK.

The system uses a Cisco ISR with VoiceXML and mobile technology to integrate Cisco Unified Communications with CCE's SCM (supply chain management) system. Sezer said CCE is now focused on deploying other types of unified communications technologies, such as video and digital signage.

Cisco also announced April 10 that it has launched the Cisco 880 and 860 Series ISRs, which provide access points supporting Cisco Unified Wireless and IEEE 802.11n WLAN (wireless LAN) and third-generation WLAN support.