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Cisco readying XML device

Networking giant looks for new markets with a project dubbed Aon, which will debut later this year, sources tell News.com.

Already a powerhouse in the market for Internet routers, Cisco Systems intends to enter the emerging market for XML networking products this year, according to industry sources.

Under a project dubbed Aon, Cisco is working on a line of networking devices designed to handle network traffic of XML documents, a field already populated by a number of specialized start-ups.

"Cisco is going to be entering the market with accelerators, security and integration appliances for XML applications," said one industry executive.

A Cisco representative declined to comment.

As previously reported, Cisco's push into XML networking is part of the company's strategy to generate revenue from businesses outside its maturing product lines.

The Aon initiative has about 200 people dedicated to it, including Taf Anthias, according to one industry executive. Anthias was previously chief technology officer in IBM's group for MQSeries messaging software. Now called WebSphere MQ, IBM's widely installed integration software sends data and transactions between different systems.

The first product from the Aon project, which is being tested by a handful of clients in the financial industry, was expected to be released in April but has been pushed back until June, one industry executive said. Cisco intends to use MQSeries messaging within its routers to speed up transmission of XML data, the executive said.

With Aon, Cisco is expected to compete with DataPower, Reactivity and a number of other small companies already in the field of building devices designed to speed up XML or process Web services security protocols.

In the past, Cisco has made clear it intends to get into "Application-Oriented Networking." In an interview with CNET News.com last month, Cisco's chief technology officer, Charles Giancarlo, said application-level networking is a "good opportunity" for the company.

"People keep asking what (application-oriented networking) means, and we say it includes things such as XML and other message-passing technologies," Giancarlo said. "That's not a long-term view; that's a short-term view. We'll definitely have more to say on this later in the year."