Cisco opens ISR routers to software developers

With more functionality in one chassis, branch offices require less gear

Cisco is opening up two pieces of its branch office gear to application developers in an effort to reduce the amount of equipment businesses have to place and manage in small business locations.

The company is making it possible for its ISR branch-office routers and a new version of its wide-area application engine (WAE) appliances to host business applications on the same chassis.

The ISRs already sport blades for intrusion prevention, voice and NAC, and now independent software developers as well as business customers can create applications to run on the devices. (Compare access routers)

The idea is to reduce the number of devices needed to support branch offices by including application servers in the same chassis as the router, which can also support VoIP.

To write for the platform, developers need a software developer’s kit with APIs into Cisco’s IOS router software as well as an application extension platform (AXP) blade for the software to run on. The ISR 1841, 2800 and 3800 devices support the AXP blade and SDK.

Business customers or ISVs can develop the applications and try to sell them themselves or with Cisco help. The company offers two levels of assistance, one in sales and marketing with certification of the software’s compatibility and the other with Cisco formally reselling the software.

The company expects developers to write ISR applications for industries such as health care, financial services, retail and energy, which have widespread branch deployments and unique applications.

Cisco is also introducing two new ISR series, the Cisco 860 and Cisco 880, that will be available in June. Pricing starts at $450. Variations of the new models include wireless access points and support for 3G wireless WAN options as well as redundant WAN connections.

In its wide area acceleration line, Cisco is bundling Microsoft’s Windows Server 2008 software in with its WAE 674. The Microsoft software will run on virtual blades within the appliance. The equipment will be able to reduce transaction times between corporate sites by optimizing traffic over WAN connections and also improve performance of Windows applications by hosting them locally. (Compare application acceleration and WAN traffic optimization products

Pricing for the new device starts at $22,000 for the chassis with an enterprise license. The WAE 674 appliance is available now and it will be available with the Microsoft Server package during the summer.

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