Application security meets the network

Cisco's Application-Oriented Networking

Cisco Systems Inc. continues to add intelligence features to its roster of network products. Last month the San Jose, Calif., company unveiled what it calls Application-Oriented Networking products, which add a layer of application-level analysis and logic to network traffic. Bill Ruh, Cisco's senior director for AON services, helped GCN see the guts of what's on sale here.

First, AON products are server blades that fit into the company's Catalyst 6500 line of data center switches and its 2600, 2800, 3700 and 3800 routers. Ruh said that covers a wide swath, but it's not every Cisco product, and there are currently no plans to integrate this kind of functionality into future switches and routers. The company plans to sell an appliance version of AON that will run in heterogeneous networks; Ruh couldn't say when.

Second, agencies don't have to install an AON blade in all their Cisco equipment to get the system's benefits, which include application security, business-activity monitoring and intelligent message routing. Ruh said strategically placed AON modules would auto-detect one another and begin communicating. The products support all standard application protocols, he said.

Finally, no word yet on pricing. Although Cisco has fielded AON products (Ruh said one Defense agency was a beta customer), general availability isn't scheduled until the fall. That said, interested agencies can buy AON products now by contacting their Cisco reps.

Ruh said a couple of government integrators have started working with AON products. ManTech International Corp. of Fairfax, Va., for one, has said it will use the technology to build secure information sharing networks. The company said it would demonstrate AON solutions as part of its Security Solutions Center.

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