Here is yet another reminder of the short attention span in our industry: in this week of all-Cisco-all-the-time coverage and commentary, induced by the Unified Computing announcement, not one article or blog posting mentioned AON (Application Oriented Networking). Remember AON, introduced by Cisco in 2005? If not you’re not alone. At least according to Technorati and Google News who don’t find a single mention of it in the Unified Computing coverage (until Technorati re-indexes this blog, at which point this entry will ironically make a liar of itself…).
If Cisco is not going to tell us how AON relates to Unified Computing it would be nice if some of the trade publications and analysts who covered AON at the time made an effort to update those of us who can’t remember the neighbor’s name but never forget an acronym. Wasn’t AON Cisco’s first attempt to move from the network layer to the application layer, which is what Unified Computing is also about? Is this the second step? A reset? What was learned from AON?
At least there are parts of Unified Computing I understand (Cisco selling blades. Check. Partnership with BMC for management software. Check. etc…). That’s more than I could say at the time for AON (even after moderating a panel at the IEEE ICWS 2005 conference in which a Cisco manager described it).
A search on the Cisco site seems to indicate that AON is indeed available for purchase. It looks like a DataPower-like XML network appliance (message security, routing and monitoring). If they had described it like that at the time I am fairly sure I would have understood. Especially since such appliances already existed. Let’s see if Unified Computing has more success as a bold vision for the programmable datacenter or if it too ends up as a lonely blade SKU in Cisco’s price sheet.
[UPDATED 2009/3/18: At least one analyst made the link. Congratulations to Eric Siegel from the Burton Group. But his linkage was too subtle for Technorati or Google to pick it up: he didn’t mention AON in his blog entry about Unified Computing. That post, titled “Cisco the Computer Company, Act IV” refers to “Cisco the Computer Company, Act III”, which refers to “Cisco the Computer Company, Act II” which refers to, you’ve guessed it, “Cisco the Computer Company” which covers AON. Bingo. Even though he doesn’t directly tackle the “how does Unified Computing relate to AON” question, Eric still gets the prize for follow-through. And for prescience. More Burton Group coverage of Unified Computing here and here. This is from the DCS (“Data Center Strategies”) side of the house, as opposed to the NTS (“Network and Telecom Strategies”) side where Eric lives. If nothing else Cisco is challenging one thing with this move: the organizational structure (DCS vs. NTS) of the Burton Group…]