Cisco this week shipped its Application Control Engine for the Catalyst 6500 Series of LAN switches. The ACE module does server load balancing, application acceleration and application-layer security.Network World's analysis of the announcement points out that these functions have been performed by other vendors for quite some time; however, some users will no doubt consider this newest product because it is from Cisco and because it is integrated right into the Catalyst 6500.The module supports up to 250 virtual partitions and can allocate resources on a per-partition basis. Each virtual partition can be managed and operated as a separate logical device. Cisco says that companies that use the ACE can have IT centrally control the infrastructure, application delivery and policies, while delegating application administration to separate operational teams through role-based access control.Still, the ACE doesn't do everything on its own. Cisco next month will upgrade its Application Velocity System (AVS) application and security appliance in tandem with the ACE announcement. With a new security software module, Cisco says the AVS works with the ACE to provide "bi-directional application inspection and protection while eliminating vastly more application vulnerabilities."The ACE supports up to 16Gbps of throughput and up to 345,000 sustained connection setups per second, according to the company. If you have a tremendous server farm, you could deploy several ACE modules in one Catalyst 6500 chassis for greater throughput.The ACE supports failover between application partitions - either within a single chassis or across chassis within a data center, or even between data centers.