Cisco has unveiled a technology that enables organisations to exchange messages between applications through the network.
Chief executive John Chambers unveiled the Application Oriented Network (AON) at the
company's Networkers 2005 user conference in Las Vegas.
The technology adds intelligence to the network. It currently only deals with data
"Instead of speaking about packets it speaks about messages," Chambers told
The network will be able to receive a customer order and convert it into several
messages for the credit, sales and shipping departments. Such applications are
possible today through software, but Cisco claims that its solution is easier to
configure and cheaper to set up.
Looking at the actual data also allows AON to give priority to the data from one
customer over another to guarantee certain service levels.
The Cisco network uses existing standards that are used by various application
integration technologies including XML, Tibco's Java Messaging Service (JMS) and IBM
Websphere MQ. Users and third parties are able to add additional standards.
Because an AON is able to distinguish different types of network traffic, it promises
to increase the security of connected applications.
"[AON] has huge implicatoins on what it means in terms of security," Chambers said.
The difference is similar to air travel, the company said. Previously airlines only
checked passports and tickets, now they also make an x-ray of the passengers' luggage
to check what they are carrying onto the plane.
The technology requires a special blade that organisations add to their switches or
routers. The blades are available today for a limited number of beta customers and
are slated for general availability in a few months, Cisco said. At that time the
company will also reveal pricing information.
The hardware comes bundled with two software management tools. The AON Development
Studio lets application integrators set up rules for messages and route them over the
network. The AON Management Console allows network managers to control the actual
Later this year Cisco plans to introduce a stand alone AON appliance that
organisations can add to their networks. It brings AON capabilities to any network,
including those that use routers and switches from Cisco competitors. The appliance
can also give them access to the AON technology without requiring any involvement
from the networking department, preventing any political battles between the
networking and application integration groups.