Latest Cisco news.Inside Cisco's latest acquisitionBy Tim GreeneCisco is making another acquisition, P-Cube, a deal that should make Cisco gear more attractive to carriers.P-Cube writes software that defines IP services within carrier networks, providing a service-control plane to augment the network plumbing of switches and routers.\u00a0Service providers such as ISPs and voice carriers are looking for ways to augment their services to keep old customers and attract new ones, and P-Cube Service Control Platform is one way to enable new services. The software measures traffic flows and can be used to meter bandwidth to customers and to track network use for billing.The software runs on appliances sold by P-Cube that can sit at aggregation points at the edge of provider networks, manipulating traffic before it is piped into the network core. This distributed sorting enables customized services and limits the scope of outages in the case of equipment failure.These features are particularly useful to providers selling broadband access to customers and who want to broaden simple Internet access to include VoIP, gaming and other revenue-producing services. The gear, for example, can track pre-paid services to cut them off when they expire.Carriers can also use P-Cube equipment to keep track of network usage and plan for expansions when necessary.Initially, Cisco plans to sell P-Cube gear as is, but over time - at least a year - the company will integrate the software into Cisco equipment. This may make carriers take note because they'll be able to look to the company for more than just massive routers that can move packets around. They'll be able to buy the gear with the ability to direct base services on them.