It feels like Cisco has been retooling the Cisco Developer Network (CDN) for the better part of a decade now. The program got life when the company acquired Metreos and Cisco put together a program called Cisco Technology Developer Program (CTDP) to build applications for the IP phone. There may be some of you chuckling at that notion, but many have thought (myself included) that there was indeed a market for such applications. Well, that never materialized, and CTDP evolved into what’s now known as CDN. The collaboration group at Cisco is focused not on IP phone apps but business apps with video, Jabber and VoIP integration.
However, CDN isn’t just related to collaboration – it’s supposed to be Cisco-wide. One of the biggest questions I’ve always had with CDN, and I’ve been a critic of it in the past, is what value the program has to the company outside of the collaboration space, particularly to the network. Cisco’s network infrastructure does have many building blocks for third parties, such as NBAR, PfR and flexible Netflow, but they haven’t been as widely utilized by third parties as I would have thought by now.
Earlier this year, Cisco created an Interoperability Verification Testing (IVT) Program for third-party software vendors to acquire Cisco Application Visibility and Control (AVC) compatibility certification. Last week, CDN partner ActionPacked! Networks became the first CDN partner to complete IVT and become certified as AVC compliant.
The AVC interoperability verification tests include Netflow-based application response time testing, media monitoring for voice and video and identification of specific applications with NBAR2. ActionPacked’s software, LiveAction, used these protocols to visually display network performance helping customers isolate, troubleshoot problems faster. ZK Research studies have shown that 90% of solving network problems occurs in the identification phase. A visual front end, like LiveAction, can remove much of that 90%.
This is an important step forward for CDN. As I’ve stated before, the majority of the value derived from CDN has been through the collaboration group. However, IT is in a state of change as mobile and cloud computing are coming faster than most IT leaders realize. This shift has a profound impact on the network, as both cloud and mobile computing are network-centric compute models.
Cisco built many of these advanced protocols years ago as a way of making the network more application-intelligent, but the intelligence does no good if no third-party vendors are leveraging them. This interoperability testing and related certification creates a path for more third-party vendors to follow the lead set by ActionPacked and helps manage application performance, which has a direct correlation to user experience.
I’ve always said that one of the keys to successfully managing the IT environment is to "know the network." To date, Cisco has known the network, but now many of Cisco’s CDN partners can as well.