For customers overloaded with appliances to speed traffic, secure networks and scan content, a new product category from Cisco might pique their interest.The company this week is releasing technology it says can consolidate multiple enterprise application delivery features onto one switch via a blade module that can be installed and maintained within Cisco switches. Cisco announced the new product under its Application Networking Services (ANS) Advanced Technology division. Application Control Engine, or ACE, consolidates multiple application delivery functions into one blade module that plugs in to Cisco's Catalyst 6500 Series Switches.Company representatives describe the product as capable of doing the work of many boxes that customers often have to support in their data centers."ACE is a new extensible hardware and software technology that incorporates Cisco's existing application acceleration capabilities," says Sangeeta Anand, vice president product management for the Application Delivery Business Unit.While industry watchers argue that the company may face challenges in the application market, Anand adds that Cisco delivers all the capabilities of competitors (such as Juniper Networks) and is now adding to the "basic application delivery" components, technology around virtualization and management.The company says it added onto its existing server load balancing, content switching, Web acceleration and intelligent compression technologies by building a new code base for its ACE modules. ACE adds to Cisco's application delivery virtual partitioning on the ACE module, hierarchical management domains and role-based access control. For instance, the ACE module allows customers to create virtual partitions defined by customer, business organization, application and application tier. Cisco says ACE can also guarantee resources for each partition, as well as enable role-based access to various partitions based on administrator rules."Virtual partitions allows customers to deploy a single ACE module and have it behave as though it is multiple ACE modules," Anand adds.ACE will be shipping immediately. ACE with 4Gbps is priced at $39,995, ACE with 8Gbps is priced at $59,995 and ACE with 16Gbps is priced at $99,995.