Cisco puts together a new framework

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Cisco Systems believes that the network will eventually be the platform.

That is the overriding statement coming from virtually all of the company’s top executives here at this week’s annual Worldwide Analyst Conference.

Cisco wants to further the Intelligence Information Network strategy it rolled out back in 2002 with a new future enterprise technology framework called Service-Oriented Network Architecture (SONA).

Charles Giancarlo, the company’s senior vice-president and chief development officer, said SONA outlines how enterprises can move into intelligent information networks so more applications and services, which are today outside the network, are housed inside it.

He believes that by 2010 there will be an almost uncountable number of devices connected to the Internet.

“Literally there will be billions of devices; more devices than we have people in the world,” said Giancarlo, who is also the president of Cisco-Linksys LLC.

As a result large enterprises will need more intelligence on the network. They will be able to accomplish any type of communications, Giancarlo said, from people-to-people, people-to-machine and machine-to-machine.

“Servers will be automating transaction to other servers that used to be done by people.”

Brian Sharwood, industry analyst for SeaBoard Group of Toronto, said SONA would allow service providers such as Bell Canada, Rogers Communications and Telus to introduce new services at an enterprise level and even in small business.

“(Cisco) want to move more applications onto the network,” Sharwood said. Sharwood believes SONA will work helping enterprises in their buying — for example, by consolidating suppliers. “SONA is a straight evolution of that,” he said.

There are three-layers to the SONA framework: the networked infrastructure layer, the interactive services layer and an applications layer. Cisco expects this framework will reduce costs and bring in more efficiencies by interconnecting all IT resources across a converged network.

“Intelligence has been coming into the network such as security and multicasting,” said Giancarlo.“Over the last ten years services such as disk management, replication and load balancing has become part of the network and that has allowed for better processing of resources and services that can scale across hundreds of datacenters.”

He added that IT budgets are decreasing. And, the money that is currently being spent goes to “lights on” IT maintenance. With SONA having the potential to lower operational costs in the network, CIOs can reallocate funds towards new technologies, Giancarlo said.

However, Sharwood said the issue with Cisco pushing out SONA is the networking giant will unavoidably step on the toes of its large integration partners such as IBM Global Services and Accenture.

Another problem he sees is with Microsoft, which back in 2003 partnered with Cisco on several joint ventures including CRM.

“If you are Microsoft, you have to look at this and be concerned about it,” Sharwood said.

Microsoft recently rolled out Live Communications Server 2005 (LCS), which Sharwood said SONA will compete against. SONA could lead to Microsoft shifting its support to other vendors, he added.

“(Microsoft) have partners and they have recently understood they will not have control of the core operating system. In a lot of cases they will say, ‘We interface with the customer.’ And, now Avaya and Mitel will breath a sigh of relief having recently made partnerships with Microsoft,” Sharwood said.

Regardless of Microsoft’s reaction, Cisco is committed to SONA and has released Application Networking Services (ANS)solution as a core part of SONA for the enterprise.

ANS combines application delivery with application-oriented networking. Giancarlo said ANS will be part of Cisco’s Advanced Technologies portfolio, which is a new product category containing solutions for digital video, enterprise IP communications, security, storage area networking and wireless technologies.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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