Cisco Pursing App Delivery Market With New Unit

Cisco Systems this month rolled out new WAN optimization and application acceleration products and a new business unit that includes those technologies. George Kurian, vice president of Cisco&'s newly unveiled Application Delivery Business Unit spoke with Infrastructure Editor Jennifer Hagendorf Follett about the new products and the role channel partners will play in their deployment. Excerpts of the conversation follow.

CRN: What is the strategy behind this new Application Delivery Business Unit?


Kurian: In terms of the products and solution sets for application acceleration and WAN optimization, Cisco offers a complete solution for customers across a range of applications and network topologies. The charter of the group, of the business unit, is to develop those sets of products, expand the capabilities that we have today, drive the partnerships together with the folks on our sales and channel marketing teams and work with some of the other parts of Cisco&'s development organization to build solution sets.

We believe WAN optimization covers a broad range of network topology types, and that could include remote access, mobile users, it could include branch-office users, and so we offer the gamut of solutions. For example, in the specific announcement today, the AVS product, the Application Velocity System product, is really focused on the remote access, consumer Web users, places in the network that aren&'t what I call tethered, meaning controlled by an enterprise endpoint. And then the WAE appliances, the Wide-area Application Engines, are for classic remote branch, small branch campus environments.

CRN: How do you see VARs and integrators playing in this area?

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Kurian: We see several value propositions to channel partners around the services component enabled by these products. Some of those service components, for example, could be application performance analysis, application network analysis to understand the sources of problems associated with the reliable delivery of an application. There&'s also the whole design, network consulting and deployment aspect of these solutions and then the performance monitoring and closing the feedback loop for the customers. …

There are two or three different sets of partners probably enabled to take advantage of this: certainly many of our traditional networking router channels that drive branch-office solutions, branch-office deployments. … We also see a class of application specialists who could provide specialized consultative selling services around some of the more complex aspects of the solution, and they could be folks like application VARs, application resellers who are also network resellers.

CRN: Is it fair to say there is a call for Cisco partners to start developing more application skills?

Kurian: Yes, I think certainly there are many of them today that already have substantial application skills. We&'ve talked to several of our partners that are also deployment partners for SAP or Siebel or Oracle solutions. They have a networking practice and an application practice. I think what we&'re trying to create within that partner community is a linkage between those two practices or between those two revenue engines, and I think this provides a nice bridge to that.

CRN: So how significant is it from the Cisco standpoint for Cisco to say that now this is a business unit?

Kurian: We don&'t make business unit decisions lightly, as you can probably imagine, so it clearly indicates that Cisco is taking an aggressive posture about a market and an aggressive posture about a set of market opportunities and competitors. It clearly signals the intent for an aggressive set of product cycles and market-shaping activities.

CRN: And these products are coming from Cisco&'s acquisition this year of FineGround Networks and last year of Actona Technologies?

Kurian: FineGround, Actona and internal Cisco development. With Actona, for example, we acquired it a long time ago, and we&'ve done a bunch of Cisco development. One of the things I wanted to clarify: People might think that Cisco is entering the application acceleration market, and frankly we&'ve been in it for a long time … so we don&'t think this is anything dramatically new. We do see there is an acceleration of some of the trends that you&'re talking about in the marketplace, and we do think there are new technologies that we are bringing to market that will capitalize on those market opportunities, but we&'ve known about this technology, we&'ve been in it for a long time. We&'ve had high-volume-shipping products in this space for a long time.