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Cisco turns to Oracle to hone strategy

The networking giant announces an alliance with Oracle that will tie elements of its management tools with Oracle's set of business applications.

Cisco Systems is turning to third-party business application software providers to round out its management and overall networking strategy.

The networking giant will announce an alliance with Oracle that will tie elements of its management tools with the database giant's set of business applications. The move aims to boost Cisco's bid to play a greater role in the market, as software becomes more dependent on networks.

Cisco is looking to make sure its line of policy-based network management software--including its recently released policy manager and associated tools--can prioritize traffic on a network from providers of business application software, such as Oracle.

The combination of Cisco's software with Oracle's applications will allow an administrator to prioritize a quarterly sales report sent across a network, for example, over an employee's email. The collaboration between the two companies will consist of software "templates" for Oracle, implementation guidelines, and a series of test reports.

Cisco announced a similar partnership with application provider PeopleSoft earlier this month.

Since Cisco plays a large role in enterprise corporate networks, the company aspires to extend its competence from networking equipment and its associated Internetworking Operating System, or IOS.

To make the networks built with its equipment more intelligent, Cisco needs to make sure the applications can communicate, according to executives.

"The larger strategy is application-aware networking," said Joe Hielscher, director of marketing for CiscoAssure policy networking. "As part of that, there are a great many things we are doing."

In addition to these deals, announced at Oracle's applications user conference in San Diego, Cisco will likely create ties with the other giants of the business application industry, such as SAP and Baan.

Company executives refused to comment on potential partnership plans.

Competitors such as 3Com, Nortel Networks, and Cabletron Systems also have plans to produce a series of policy-based networking tools--but industry analysts believe Cisco has the edge.

"As the policy manager is a key component within nearly all policy networking strategies, Cisco gains a short-term competitive advantage from being an early adopter," said Ed Hold, analyst with market watcher Current Analysis, in a research report.