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Cisco bridges the gulf between intelligent network services and SOA

External forces -- sensors, unified communications, and moving to VOIP, and all these IP services -- are starting to come together, and they’re coming into the organization.
Written by Dana Gardner, Contributor

Peruse the full transcript of the discussion.

SOA, virtualization, network convergence, intelligent network services, unified commjunications, and higher levels of standardization are swirling about -- not just as buzzwords but as individual disrupters to IT.

But what about collectively? Which of these trends fit together for larger pay-offs? We put such questions to Bill Ruh, the vice president of Advanced Services at Cisco Systems, in a 30-minute BriefingsDirect podcast discussion.

Today's modern architectures and networks must provide "integration for everyone," says Ruh. Here are some excerpts from the chat:

We also see that the kind of things we want to do with integration is changing. It used to be that integration was really about taking information from one system and integrating it with information from another system. The kinds of integration we’re talking about now is also fundamentally changing, because what people want to do now is more about interactions than about production and transactions. ... This idea of collaboration means that I’m not just integrating applications in a technology sense. I’m integrating people and processes into this.
So, when you look about "integration for everyone," what we’re really talking about is not just technology integration. We’re now integrating all these devices and all these sensors and all these people and all these cell phones. We’re now taking those integrations and it’s not just transferring information. We want to collaborate. We want to bring in this idea of communication. When I talk about "integration for everyone," it means that it’s integration for me. It’s integration for my son or daughter. It’s integration for everyone so that they get all the services and capabilities they need through whatever device or channel or whatever they’re interacting through. And that’s a fundamental re-definition of what integration is about.

... It’s not just the networking administrator or the networking person. It’s not just the applications person. The end user is going to start taking advantage of services and that changes the dynamics entirely. So, we’re going to see a real change in the dynamics between these organizations. And that’s why the network is so important. It’s the one thing that connects them all -- and those services have to be there to reduce that complexity.

... This whole idea of communication is fundamentally being re-written overnight. Unified communications is going to be the focus for these next-generation applications that are going to support that environment. When you really look at the vision for where unified communications will go in the next five years, it includes the idea: "Why can't I take my blogs, and why can’t I take something like Google Earth and then plot where the blogs are?" Maybe I want to look at blogs that are from a certain part of the world, or that talk about a certain part of the world.
Communication is fundamentally changing to be IP-based. So, the network has provided services to allow those individuals to integrate with everybody. If I’m on a blog and I want to talk to someone and I want to collaborate with someone, I can bring up my collaboration tools. I can bring up my VOIP capability -- all of these things that are integrated. Those services allow me to take all of the services like Google Earth and start to use those tools as a part of the collaboration.
The idea that services can get integrated to the communications is important, and the network becomes the focal point for the services that support that infrastructure, as well as IP being the basis for all these different tools working together.

... The issue that we’re trying to educate people on is that some of these services do belong in the network. From a developer’s perspective today they may think about identity services or mobility services. They need to be aware that decisions need to be made about it. Maybe this ought to be in the network, and they need to work with networking folks and architecture folks. If we need these as common services, hopefully they’ll also say, "Yeah, we know that they should be in the network."
And this has happened before. VPN used to be in application code -- and it has migrated down to the network. Multi-cast is another great example: Programmers used to build multi-cast and now they know it’s in the network, and they expect it to be there. Firewalls used to be at the application layer. It's the same with quality of service, replication, back-up, encryption -- all these things. We’re really continuing down the path of educating developers that these services belong in the network.
From a programmer’s standpoint, it either just happens, which is the best case, or they can configure it as a service. The way we’re moving is to open up and provide some of our functionality to services that a system’s architect or an application person can take advantage of as they build out their applications.

Listen for yourself and learn how the need for pervasive integration will affect developers, architects, CIOs, users and business planners in this 30-minute BriefingsDirect podcast discussion.

Peruse the full transcript of the discussion.

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