the Pipeline

But can it tap-dance?

Cisco Systems' plan to take over the world one network at a time enters its third phase with the release of Application-Oriented Networking (AON), technology that allows existing networks to understand the data that passes through them and apply business rules to documents.

"You define it as an application message, and it looks within the underlying network to find those packets and bring them together," said Bill Ruh, senior director of worldwide AON services. "It understands what a business document is, and [that it's] not just a series of packets. The more interesting level is we can allow you to make decisions about how to handle that information in the network."

For example, AON could order the network to check documents for digital signatures and reject those that lacked them, he said.

The technology works at the application level, which is above those parts of the network where Cisco has made its reputation.

The first phase of Cisco's Intelligent Information Network vision, first articulated in 2003, involved the integration of video, voice and data — the transport layer, Ruh said. In Phase 2, new technologies added the virtualization of networking, storage, server and security services. Now, Phase 3 addresses the application layer of an information technology infrastructure.

"Where we see ourselves going in the future is greater integration at the policy level," he said. "These policies at each level can interact with each other."

The system does not use artificial intelligence technologies that can learn and improve over time, but it can work with such tools, Ruh said. "You could embed that technology in the network and add it to our policy tool," he added.

Workhorse workstation

Sun Microsystems' super-sneaky strategizers have cracked the code to what developers want in a workstation, and the answer is the highest possible performance at the lowest possible price, said Rajesh Shakkarwar, the company's senior director of marketing.

Sun might have a firm grasp on what seems obvious, but it also has a new workstation designed for developers. It is the Ultra 20, which Sun delivers in three standard configurations with high-powered processors and graphics cards that can support visual simulations of developers' work. The least expensive configuration costs $895, and the high end is priced at $2,695.

Customers can also order custom configurations, Shakkarwar said.

"We think this is a pretty compelling workstation for developers," he said. "We have been doing workstations for 22 years. We have absolute leadership in this market. Our customers are not mom-and-pop shops. They are big enterprises, the government, the defense industry."

All the workstations are equipped with 64-bit Advanced Micro Devices Opteron processors and include Sun's Solaris 10 operating system and about $4,000 worth of Sun developer tools, he said.

The company has released Ultra 3, its first self-branded laptop computer. Targeted at enterprise customers, not the consumer market, the computers have Sun's Solaris operating system and with Sun's OpenOffice productivity suite, among other software.

Sun decided to develop the laptop computer in response to customer feedback, Shakkarwar said.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Shutterstock image: looking for code.

    How DOD embraced bug bounties -- and how your agency can, too

    Hack the Pentagon proved to Defense Department officials that outside hackers can be assets, not adversaries.

  • Shutterstock image: cyber defense.

    Why PPD-41 is evolutionary, not revolutionary

    Government cybersecurity officials say the presidential policy directive codifies cyber incident response protocols but doesn't radically change what's been in practice in recent years.

  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group