ANS encompasses product groups that have been previously announced, including wide-area network application engine (WAE), but is also part of Cisco’s Service-Oriented Network Architecture (SONA), which the vendor describes as a “framework” that lets businesses develop an intelligent information network (IIN), a concept Cisco introduced in 2002.Applications such as Web services and transaction-based software often send files between branch offices and centralized data centres, and in some cases a file will make 4,000 round trips from one processor to another, said Jayshree Ullal, senior vice-president in charge of Cisco’s data center, switching and security technology group.
At Cisco’s recent Worldwide Analyst Conference, Ullal said the protocol overhead in network-based applications means each round trip could take 10 milliseconds within a data centre, and the delay could be nearly a third of a second for an application running over a wide-area network.
“Potentially you could have a response time delay of up to 20 minutes when you’re across the wide area, on high speed, and even four seconds in a data centre,” she said, adding it’s “not always practical” to increase the network speed or add more servers to the data centre.
“Wouldn’t it be better if the network, which is operated today on packets and protocols, could be intelligent enough to understand messages, applications and make the networks more application-aware?”
ANS includes modules for Cisco Catalyst switches and wide-area file services (WAFS) products.
the network is the platform
Companies are centralizing servers and other equipment in data centres to help make it easier to comply with corporate accountability laws, said Andreas Antonopoulos, senior vice-president and founding partner of Nemertes Research in New York, who attended the conference.
“It’s becoming very very difficult to do regulatory compliance with massively distributed servers and storage, so pulling things back from the branch has a lot to do with the fact that it’s cheaper to do compliance in a centralized location,” he said.
Throughout the conference, Cisco executives positioned the company as more of a business solutions provider than a network product manufacturer.
John Chambers, the company’s chief executive officer, said users don’t care where their information resides on the network.
“We believe that network IT will become the platform, in other words you will access it from any device any time anywhere in the world over any combination of networks and you will have no idea where the information is stored, where it’s processed, where the application resides,” he said. “That’s a vision you have to plan for five to ten years out. ”
He added Cisco’s products may be more expensive than those of competitors, but the list price accounts for only a quarter of the cost of a network infrastructure.
“Our competition could in theory give it away and we would still be in a better position.”