Cisco, SAP Team Up on AON Integration

Cisco's push to bring data integration capabilities into a hardware router form-factor has a strong new enterprise software ally. SAP confirmed it will use Cisco's Application-Oriented Networking (AON) hardware technologies to speed data and business integration later this year, including Business One and NetWeaver software. IDN looks at how hardware just might change the face of integration this year.

Tags: Business, Network, Cisco, AON, Enterprise, XML, Network Hardware,

Cisco's push to bring data integration capabilities into a hardware router form-factor has a strong new enterprise software ally. SAP confirmed it will use Cisco's Application-Oriented Networking hardware technologies to speed data and business integration later this year.

SAP will start by porting aspects of its BusinessOne midmarket ERP software to run on Cisco AON, and will also integrate its J2EE-based NetWeaver app server, enterprise services platform. By integrating SAP's NetWeaver with Cisco AON, the existing network infrastructure will become Enterprise Services Architecture-aware, the companies said.

"SAP and Cisco Systems are bringing the worlds of mission-critical business applications and intelligent networks closer together, said SAP senior VP George Paolini, in a statement. "This collaboration will transform the customer's experience with easier application integration and better business visibility by facilitating the deployment and management of mission-critical SAP applications pervasively, securely, and at lower cost over application-aware, intelligent information networks."

Among the benefits of Cisco's AON approach, SAP notes are:
  • Reliable and quick access to highly accurate, business-critical applications and information with increased security and visibility;
  • Visibility across all vital business functions and policies;
  • Reduce installation and administration costs of integration and data sharing requirements;
  • Transform existing networks, information, and applications into strategic assets; and
  • Better empower fast and decisive business decision-making.

  • Together, NetWeaver and Cisco AON help CIOs streamline the space in the data center while delivering Cisco AON-based application security, messaging, validation, policy management, hardware acceleration, and routing within a single solution. For SAP and Cisco large enterprise customers, application deployment becomes easier by taking advantage of Cisco AON's pervasive network footprint, and system reliability increases by automatically using Cisco AON's network hardware redundancy, failover, clustering, and load-balancing support.

    Cisco's XML messaging capability in AON enables (embedded as a Layer 6 protocol) wide-area data integration between remote branch offices and headquarters. "By having the XML acceleration and optimization in AON, it saves the app vendors from having to embed those functions in the apps themselves," head of solutions marketing for Cisco's AON's Sam Boonin told Computer Business Review

    "SAP's NetWeaver [J2EE app server] is designed to give companies the ability to build and execute business process on the fly," Boonin added, "so it needs an infrastructure that can instrument the appropriate network components to support that process, which is AON. Today, the network speaks IP, and in the long term it will talk XML."

    Inside Cisco AON - A Look at Hardware-Driven Integration
    When Cisco rolled out its AON (Application-Oriented Networking) last fall, the company may have changed the face of network hardware. AON's most-touted bell-and-whistle is a visibility dashboard, which is designed to provide apps managers - not network managers - a real-time view of how their business software is running.

    IDN spoke with Mike Carter, co-founder of CXO Systems, Cisco's key XML partner for bringing up-the-stack capabilities to AON.

    CXO, based in Waltham, Mass., has worked with Cisco engineers to integrate the CXO "visibility dashboard" technology for real-time business and risk intelligence. In specific, CXO's software bring to Cisco's networking hardware a data and intelligence layer, as well as a wizard-driven toolkit that gives application devs a way to bring new business-driven management and visibility apps to network users and admins.

    "What we're saying is that now Cisco can sense XML, and that means an enterprise can get visibility into their business data much cheaper and faster than ever. So rather than spend $3 million on an expensive data warehouse or network software company customized solution, you can get it down for 1/5 that cost and much less time using in-house developers," Carter told IDN.

    CXO Systems predictive risk management dashboards coordinate risk-related initiatives into a holistic view enabling better business performance. Through CXO Systems' patent-pending Service Oriented Architecture, static data becomes flowing intelligence across systems.

    CXO Systems browser-based dashboard software enables real-time alerts, continuous monitoring, and simple yet powerful information navigation, bringing Enterprise Risk Intelligence to the decision maker's desktop.

    "What do you want to do?," Carter asked. "With our approach, based on XML and other web services standards like BPEL, we can provide a single view of customer, purchase, whatever it is, using [business layer] agents that let you make sense of your data from a semantic perspective. The bottom line: This gives you centralized visibility into your data and applications, without the need to move everything into a central data warehouse."

    "[Cisco CEO John] Chambers is talking about the network as the center of computing, so it just follows that AON helps make that happen by bringing to today's network hardware the capability of handling XML-based portable data over HTTP (which is a web service)," Carter added.

    How Cisco AON's XML Could Impact Devs
    Carter expalined in depth just how Cisco AON's bundling of higher-level XML and business intelligence capabilities might change the lanscape for enterprise devs.

    "Well, companies would need to have specially-trained technicians to work with their business intelligence tools [which would run a top the data warehouse]. That meant business users couldn't always run or adjust their reports," Carter said. "And, often companies needed to install customized EAI {enterprise application integration] tools into their data warehouse to get access to all the different types of data they would need for reports. So, the result is that there are so many barriers to efficient use of enterprise data, that even when you have the data warehouse upwards of 90-95% of the data you put in there doesn't even get used."

    So, we asked Carter if that meant that CXO's approach is key to using web services to help create this "virtual" data warehouse?

    "Yes, exactly. Our approach says if you could use web services to identify and access all the different data you need, you could have a virtual data warehousing layer throughout your entire network. This would reduce the cost and complexity of the need to have a data warehouse," Carter said.

    So, XML would be key to this virtual data warehouse?
    "Yes, our software can sniff the XML that is being moved from the different apps. And, with our work with Cisco, we're looking at Cisco network devices as a kind of firmware layer for us. As a result, AON can capture the XML and make sense of the data and make sense of the data. That lets us take a virtual approach to distribution of the information," he added.

    AON's dashboards are deisgned to ensure that senior-level executives needing business and IT information have access to the most up-to-date data in the enterprise; ensuring critical decisions are made based on pinpoint accurate information.

    "Cisco AON and the CXO technology working together as a solution will give senior executives the ability to mitigate risk by making informed decisions based on real-time information, and thereby gain a real competitive advantage for their companies," said Cisco's AON business unit general manager Taf Anthias in a statement.