Cisco's AON: another platform play

Some people have wondered why Cisco entered the market for messaging through its own research and development investments, rather than buy an existing XML networking company. The reason, according to Cisco Chief Technology Officer Charles Giancarlo, has more to do with Cisco's ambitions than the potential acquisition price.

"We didn't feel that any of the companies has the kind of platform we want to build and we thought it was a fairy new market so didn't need to acquire somebody, " said Giancarlo. "Secondly, all of those companies are very focused on it XML and that still is a very small part of the installed base for application sharing and collaboration."

Indeed, a large part of the launch Tuesday of Cisco's AON business unit was supporting announcements from software partners, such as IBM, SAP and Tibco as well as several smaller firms.

By building a platform on which other companies can build add-ons, Cisco will help create a bigger market for application-oriented networking overall and avoid stomping on the toes of its software partners, Giancarlo said.

"The results show that we're not very much in conflict" with software companies, he said.

Although some people have their doubts about how successful Cisco will be in application-oriented networking, Giancarlo is pretty bullish. "I think this has the potential to be a billion-dollar technology."