Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Cisco Turns Routers Into Linux Application Servers

Networking gear and server equipment are two distinct types of hardware, right? Not anymore.

Networking goliath Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) is now opening its Integrated Services Router (ISR) and Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) platforms to become Linux-based application server platforms. The move could have wide-ranging implications, as Cisco’s gear has millions of deployments that now can be leveraged to serve applications directly.

Inbar Lasser-Raab, Cisco’s senior director of network systems, told InternetNews.com that the company has been looking to open up the ISR to third-party applications for a long time.

“We really think that we’re changing the way business models will be built in the branch,” she said. Lasser-Raab isn’t being overly dramatic, either. Cisco to date has sold more than 4 million ISRs and as such has a large installed base to target with the new application initiative.

Officially called the Cisco Application eXtension Platform (AXP), the new initiative includes both hardware and software for deploying applications on Cisco’s routers. The AXP is available as both a module that can plug into modular Cisco ISRs as well as a daughterboard that can plug into a Cisco ISR motherboard.

On the software side, the core operating system of the AXP is Linux. Joel Conover, manager of network systems at Cisco, explained that that the version of Linux used is one that Cisco refers to it as Cisco Hardened Linux.

Cisco is no stranger to Linux, though the AXP does represent a shift.
“This is not the first time we have had a Linux platform, ” Lasser-Raab commented. “Some of the network modules with various services are also Linux-based. So we’re actually using the same Linux to deploy our own services onto modules. Now we’re just making it available to our customers and partners.”

Though the AXP is Linux-based, Conover noted that the actual development environment for applications could be anything an ISV wants. He explained that the SDK (define) and APIs (define) provide a standard set of libraries for C, Python and Java.

Before an application can actually be deployed onto an AXP, a certification process must first be completed. Part of the process includes a license agreement from Cisco as well as a support contract. The certification also provides a mechanism to ensure that only certified applications are deployed on the AXP.

Lasser-Raab noted that routers are mission-critical components, and customers likely don’t want any engineer to be able to deploy whatever they want without first ensuring it’s certified.

From a pure open source perspective, Cisco is also making sure it plays by the rules.

“From a GPL perspective, we’ve taken all the things that are GPL and reciprocated the code back to the community,” Conover said. “Obviously if a developer built an application on top of a GPL platform, that doesn’t imply that they have to GPL that code. ”

The GPL is a reciprocal license that requires any modification made be contributed back to the community.

This article was first published on InternetNews.com. To read the full article, click here.

Similar articles

Latest Articles

Top Data Visualization Tools...

The amount of data generated and consumed by organizations is growing at an astounding rate. The total volume of data and information worldwide has...

The Data Capture Market

Data capture is the process of collecting, ingesting, or otherwise acquiring structured and unstructured data and either converting it into a data format usable...

NVIDIA and the Move...

NVIDIA recently held a Q&A with its visionary CEO Jensen Huang.   While the Q&A this week focused on NVIDIA’s announcements at Computex, his opening and...

Acquia Updates Open Digital...

BOSTON – Acquia’s Drupal-based customer experience (CX) platform is looking different to enterprise users. Acquia made updates last quarter across its three-part Open Digital Experience...