Cisco Outlines ANS Technology Initiative

Cisco Systems Inc. formally launched its latest advanced technology initiative-Application Networking Services-at its Worldwide Analyst Conference last week.

Cisco Systems Inc. formally launched its latest advanced technology initiative—Application Networking Services—at its Worldwide Analyst Conference last week.

One of a series of nine growth opportunities Cisco has identified to become $1 billion businesses within seven years, ANS represents Ciscos strategic alignment of various sales and marketing functions around optimizing and securing the delivery of application traffic.

But some industry observers believe Cisco is late to recognize the fast-growing market for application delivery controllers and WAN optimization devices. Gartner Inc. projects that the total market this year will reach about $1.5 billion, with application delivery controllers representing $800 million and WAN optimization taking $700 million, according to Joe Skorupa, a Gartner analyst in Fremont, Calif.

"Weve been telling them for three years that they needed to do something here. If they had declared Application-Oriented Networking an advanced technology two years ago, that would have been visionary. But today its catching up to the vision of ... a host of other vendors," Skorupa said.

ANS encompasses two different approaches, including "application delivery services focused on optimizing and securing communications between end users and applications or application services" and "optimizing communication between applications," said George Kurian, vice president and general manager at Cisco, in San Jose, Calif.

Because it encompasses both Ciscos Application-Oriented Networking initiative, launched last summer, and its application delivery activities, ANS is also Ciscos tacit acknowledgment that AON itself does not promise to be a $1 billion business opportunity. Cisco didnt launch any new deliverables in the ANS rollout, which was intended to signal a companywide focus and a marshaling of resources to aggressively pursue the next advanced technology play.

ANS comprises three sets of products: existing server load balancing products that include content switching modules and an appliance; data center application optimization and security services based on technology acquired with FineGround Networks Inc. as well as Cisco-built application security technology within Ciscos Application Velocity System products; and appliances located in branch offices based on Ciscos Wide Area Application Engine, which implements Wide Area File Services software from Ciscos Actona Technologies Inc. acquisition as well as Ciscos own content networking technology.

Kurian said he believes Cisco can compete effectively with market leader F5 Networks Inc. in the data center and that F5 is following Ciscos lead in the branch office with its October acquisition of Swan Labs Corp.

"They have certain advantages ... in the data center side, but we can embed technologies within data center infrastructure in a way they cant, and we have reach into the channel that they [dont]," Kurian said. "You will see us articulate application networking services as part of an overall data center architecture. Others will articulate it as a stand-alone overlay. From that perspective, well be able to win."