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Cisco, Microsoft advance business software partnership

The two companies join to promote the means for application service providers to deliver programs hosted on Microsoft-based servers and sent across networks based on Cisco's infrastructure.

Cisco and Microsoft today advanced their business software partnership, introducing ways to deliver applications across a network.

The two companies plan to jointly promote their respective technological expertise so that application service providers, or ASPs, can deliver programs hosted on computers running Microsoft's software and sent across networks based on Cisco's infrastructure technology, according to the two companies. The initiative is aimed at small and medium-sized businesses.

The companies also said Cisco's IP/TV streaming media technology will now be built atop Microsoft's Windows Media Technologies software for streaming video broadcasts across corporate networks. The combination of technologies is targeted at businesses deploying online learning applications and corporate communications broadcasts to users via Internet Protocol-based (IP) networks. The deal is non-exclusive.

"Small and mid-sized companies don't have the same level of IT [staff] as large-sized companies," said David Ostroff, Microsoft's program manager for ASP hosting. "With ASPs, they can get services on a monthly subscription rather than buy the hardware and software and skilled resources to deploy these services."

The deal centers around how third parties use Microsoft's Windows NT operating system, SQL Server database software, and Site Server Commerce Edition software; and Cisco's routing and switching devices and associated networking software to deliver applications.

The ASP market represents an opportunity for a variety of firms, from Internet service providers (ISP) to systems companies like IBM and software firms like Oracle. The developing niche turns on the idea that software can be more cheaply delivered to customers across a network, saving organizations administrative costs.

Cisco struck a similar deal with systems giant IBM last week. The company also championed the formation of an industry advocacy group called the ASP Industry Consortium in May.

Among the participants in the Cisco-Microsoft effort are: Digex, FutureLink, Interliant, The Cyber Solutions division of Qwest Communications International, the Taylor Group, and US Internetworking.

Cisco and Microsoft plan to offer a "deployment kit" for third-party ASPs, the companies said in a joint release. Software developers involved in the effort include Clarus, Great Plains, and Pivotal.