By Shashi Kiran, Marketing Manager, Cisco Network Solutions Systems
Linux Magazine named Cisco as one of the top 20 companies to watch in 2009. Cisco was featured as Number 5 on the magazine's list because of its activities promoting the concept and practice of open source. Among them was the recent Cisco 'Think Inside the Box' developer contest involving Linux applications on Cisco Integrated Services Routers and Unified Communications applications.
Cisco has embraced open source, open standards, and open extensibility in its product life cycle and has incorporated these as a way of doing business even for its mainstream multibillion-dollar product lines.
The Cisco Integrated Services Router is a prime example. With more than 5 million routers deployed worldwide, it is the platform of choice for services integration in the branch office. In April 2008, Cisco introduced the Application Extension Platform, a Linux-based service module that allows the integration of third-party applications on the router platform. This enables extensibility of the network as a platform and promotes better network-application synergy. A number of major independent software vendors have used this platform, with its open APIs and Linux base, to host traditional server-based applications on the router platform itself. These applications have led to better operational and cost efficiencies for customers in branch networks, while promoting better network-application synergy and a higher degree of performance, survivability and security for branch applications.
Building on this momentum, Cisco launched a worldwide "Think Inside the Box" Application developer contest in October 2008 to promote the concept of the network as a platform and to solicit innovative applications to be developed on the Application Extension Platform. The prize money totals US$100,000. This contest has enabled Cisco to engage with the broader developer community and to facilitate two-way interaction through a variety of social media activities. The contest interacts with various constituents through the Innovation Blog, Cisco Facebook, CiscoGeeks Twitter site, Second Life, Cisco AXP YouTube and Cisco Developer Community.
Cisco appreciates industry thought leaders, bloggers and media personnel who have encouraged Cisco’s various open-source-related activities and blogged about them. Coverage has been provided by the Linux Foundation ("Cisco Dev Contest Bridges Network, Development Gap"), Slashdot ("Cisco Turns Routers Into Linux App Servers"), CIO ("Cisco: Huge International Interest in the Developer Contest"), Linux Insider ("Making of an Open Source Developer Hero"), and the VAR Guy ("International Linux Developers: Falling for Cisco?"), ReadWriteweb: ("Cisco in the cloud: Application Extension Platform").
The contest and related outreach efforts provide visibility to Cisco’s open source initiatives and solicit proactive engagement with the open source community. Cisco partners and customers, including HIG Capital and Cardiovascular Group, customers of fax-over-IP solutions from SAGEM-Interstar, have collaborated with Cisco on joint solutions and have adopted solutions such as those on the Cisco Application Extension platform. In addition, Cisco has established an active developer community with the Industry Solution Partner Program, which continues to streamline the process with various developers as they engage with Cisco.
The Linux Magazine award also cites Cisco’s acquisition of PostPath and the Cisco Unified Communications solutions as key initiatives that have furthered the cause of open source and open standards to enhance collaboration.
In naming its top 20, Linux Magazine says this recognition "tells us that these firms have a high probability of helping their customers to save some funds in 2009" and that they were "chosen because they could help enterprises survive and even thrive."