Cisco Readies XML Devices, Software

Cisco Systems aims to bring advanced XML security and management capabilities to large enterprise networks.

Cisco Systems Inc. will unveil a set of much-anticipated products for handling XML traffic later this month that will bring advanced XML security and management capabilities to large enterprise networks.

The San Jose, Calif., company will unveil products from its new AON (Application-Oriented Networking) group next week, as well as partnerships with leading middleware vendors such as SAP AG and IBM.

The products include an AON blade for the Catalyst 6500 Series switch to perform XML message processing, an AON edge device that manages data from wireless and RFID (radio-frequency identification) devices, and AON management software, according to sources familiar with the plans, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A Cisco spokesperson declined to comment for this story.

The XML blade for the Catalyst 6500 Series switch will add new functions such as XML message parsing, schema validation and digital signature validation.

Cisco will use Tarari Inc.s RAX Content Processor, a special-purpose silicon chip that can process complex XML tasks rapidly and efficiently, according to the sources.

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Tararis technology is already used by other vendors, including Reactivity Inc., an XML infrastructure technology vendor, to speed tasks that consume processing resources.

Cisco is using Tararis programmable chip to perform low-level tasks such as checking XML signatures and verifying XML schemas. But Ciscos AON developers have also created a substantial amount of technology, including agents that work with the chip and handle tasks such as XML message transformation, which makes it possible to exchange XML messages between two systems that use different XML schemas.

Cisco will also announce an AON edge router for branch offices that can perform content-based routing of XML messages, XML message authentication and logging.

The new AON device will support wired and wireless devices and enable companies that use RFID technology to centrally manage RFID readers; identify RFID-tagged devices; and pinpoint the physical location of those devices in their facility, a feature known as geolocation, sources said.

While Cisco is planning a phased rollout of its new products, the AON devices will eventually turn specialized functions such as RFID into networked applications.

Around 10 to 15 software integrators, including SAP AG, IBM and TIBCO Software Inc., are expected to be part of next weeks news, announcing partnerships with Cisco.

New integrated management tools for the devices, called ADS (AON Design Studio) and AMC (AON Management Console), will allow customers to create and distribute communication and security policies for the devices using a drag-and-drop GUI, according to information obtained by eWEEK.

Christopher Crowhurst, vice president and principal architect at Thomson Learning, in Baltimore, said that his company uses technology from Reactivity to secure business-to-business Web services transactions with customers. Crowhurst said he would have to do a lot of investigation of Ciscos AON products to make sure they meet the needs of his organization before signing on. In particular, Crowhurst expressed doubts about Ciscos ability to craft easy-to-use management tools.

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