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Cisco to speed up applications

Cisco Systems plans to embed new technology in networking gear to accelerate software use on corporate networks.

Cisco Systems announced on Tuesday a new technology that is designed to improve software performance on corporate networks.

The technology, called Application Network Services (ANS), is software that will be embedded in Cisco's routers, switches and other products to help companies more efficiently deliver applications over the network, theoretically reducing the time it takes for employees to access large software programs. It was announced in San Jose, Calif., at Cisco's analyst conference.

Cisco has named ANS as its ninth "Advanced Technology," which is a designation given to high-growth markets that the company believes will generate more than $1 billion in revenue. Other Advanced Technologies include Internet Protocol telephony, digital video, optical networking, storage area networking, home networking, wireless, security, and hosted small businesses.

Cisco has already been focusing on how to better handle applications in the network. Earlier this year, it launched its application-oriented networking, or AON, business unit, which adds more "intelligence" to its current networking hardware line. The AON products will be "application aware," which means they can inspect information that's being transmitted and route messages based on predefined policies.

Cisco's ANS software takes this idea a step further by helping companies link their applications to deliver service much faster and cheaper than they have in the past, the company says. Analysts believe Cisco's new offering is one of several that are expected to focus on delivering services through the corporate network.

The software running on Cisco's hardware will help loosely assemble a collection of business functions and move them across the network. But at least one analyst emphasized that Cisco is not moving into the software market.

Cisco "is hoping to make the network an integral part of this new software architecture by taking over responsibility for keeping track of and delivering messages to those individual software functions," Steve Kamman, an analyst at CIBC World Markets, said in a research note to investors. "This is a long-term business prospect, but also one that holds tremendous potential for value creation if Cisco and others (e.g. IBM-NR) can get this ball rolling."