Organizations of all sizes share an ongoing goal of increasing employee productivity and reducing costs through technology. Your business can cost-effectively meet your office communications and application integration needs by using Cisco® integrated services router platforms to deliver data, voice, security, wireless LAN, switching, and video services on a single, converged network, customized to meet the needs of your business today and in the future.
As organizations continue with the trend toward centralization and consolidation of their branch-office IT footprint, the Cisco integrated services router has been instrumental in integrating the networking infrastructure together and significantly reducing operational costs. The Cisco Application Extension Platform (AXP) provides a powerful and flexible environment to extend this concept. It enables hosting and integration of custom applications and network services into the Cisco integrated services routers. Using the AXP (Figure 1), the integrated services router becomes a powerful integration platform to build and host complete vertical centric solutions.
Figure 1. Cisco AXP
Cisco AXP can improve your total cost of ownership (TCO) for deployed branch-office applications by enabling complete, unified solutions. Enterprises, managed service providers (MSPs), and integrators can use AXP to:
• Integrate custom applications and services into the integrated services routers
• Differentiate themselves from their competitors
• Provide complete end-to-end integrated single-box solutions
For more information about the benefits and deployment models of Cisco AXP, refer to the white paper at the Cisco AXP homepage: http://www.cisco.com/go/axp.
The Cisco AXP provides a standards-based Linux hosting environment within the integrated services router, allowing third parties to integrate applications with the router. Tightly integrated, the AXP environment is configured and managed through the router. Harnessing this integration, an AXP application can appear to the end user as an extension of the router (refer to Figure 2).
The Cisco AXP solution consists of:
• Application runtime network module that provides dedicated resources to host applications
• Cisco AXP hosting environment, which provides the infrastructure to securely host, install, upgrade, and manage third-party applications and services
• Cisco IOS® Software integration application programming interfaces (APIs), which allow the application to integrate and use the features of the router
• Software developer kit (SDK) that allows certified customers and partners to develop applications and services
• Cisco AXP Partner Program, which provides the collateral, extended technical support, and online resources to help partners develop, deploy, and market their Cisco AXP-based solutions
AXP on Service Ready Engines (SRE) for ISR G2
Service Ready Engine (SRE) is a family of high-performance hardware modules for the next generation of Cisco Integrated Services Routers (ISR G2) that provides the capability to host Cisco, 3rd party, and custom applications. The modules have their own processors, hard disks, network interfaces, and memory that operate independently of the host router resources, helping to ensure maximum concurrent routing and application performance while reducing physical footprint, lowering power consumption, and consolidating management. Applications can be provisioned on the module upfront or remotely at a later time. This solution enables organizations of various sizes to reduce cost of rolling out branch services, future-proof their network, and quickly deploy new branch office applications.
Table 1. Service Ready Engine (SRE)
• ISM form factor
• 1.066 GHz Intel processor
• 512 MB RAM
• 2 GB eUSB
Cisco AXP ISM platform is suitable for smaller footprint and / or embedded applications supported on ISR G2 platform.
• SM form factor
• 1.86-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor (Single Core)
• 2 GB RAM
• 500 GB hard disk
Cisco AXP SM platform is designed for high input/output (I/O) inline packet services and advanced applications supported on ISR G2 platform.
• SM form factor
• 1.86-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor (Dual Core)
• 4 GB RAM
• 1 TB hard disk
• RAID 1 support
• Embedded hardware based cryptography acceleration
Cisco AXP SM is designed for application which require extensive processing capability and additional memory and require high availability supported on ISR G2 platform.
AXP on Previous Generation ISR Network Modules
Enabled on an Integrated Services Router, the application runtime environment network module (APPRE) provides dedicated hardware resources, preventing the application from affecting the performance of the router. The APPREs are built using standard x86-based processors, providing an ideal environment for solutions developed for standard Linux hardware.
Table 2. Application Runtime Environment (APPRE)
• AIM form factor
• 600 MHz Intel Tolapai processor
• 512 MB RAM
• 2-GB Compact Flash
The Cisco AXP AIM2 is ideal for smaller-footprint and / or embedded applications.
• NME form factor
• 1.0 GHz Intel Celeron processor
• 512 MB RAM
• 80 GB hard disk
The general-purpose integrated-services-router NME is powerful enough to host a variety of business applications and packet services.
• NME form factor
• 1.0 GHz Intel Celeron M processor
• 1 GB RAM
• 120 GB hard disk
This NME is designed for inline packet services and advanced applications.
• NME form factor
• 1.4-GHz Intel Pentium M processor
• 2-GB RAM
• 160-GB hard disk
This NME is designed for high input/output (I/O) inline packet services and advanced applications; the Cisco AXP NME-522 is supported on the Cisco 3800 Series Integrated Services Router for high-powered applications and services.
Virtual Development Environment
Cisco AXP developers can fully develop and test their applications using the Cisco AXP Virtual Development Blade. Running on VMWare, the virtual blade fully emulates an AXP blade allowing application developers to build AXP applications from a standard PC running VMWare Player.
Cisco AXP Features
The Cisco AXP provides a Linux-based integration environment to host custom applications and services. The features of the platform include:
• Robust packaging, installation, and upgrade facilities: The complexity of managing software for multiple devices is provided as part of the core platform offering. Cisco AXP provides appliance functions, allowing the application developer to focus on the application and not worry about the underlying infrastructure.
• Multiple application support: Using the virtual instance manager, Cisco AXP supports the ability to host multiple applications or components. These components can be independently installed, upgraded, or removed. The instance manager provides the ability to segment and guarantee resources (CPU, memory, and disk) consumed by each component. In addition to resource controls, the virtual instance manager provides a segmented Linux OS instance on the AXP that is fully controlled by the developer, allowing the developer to use custom libraries and binaries built for different Linux distributions. Developers can utilize standard packages built for a variety of different Linux Distributions.
• Extensible command-line interface (CLI): Cisco AXP allows you to extend the interface of the Cisco module by adding custom CLI commands to administer and monitor an application. By extending the supported Cisco interface, the end user has a consistent and integrated experience.
• Prepackaged value-added components and programming environments: Cisco AXP allows you to use all programming technologies supported by Linux. To ease integration, Cisco provides prepackaged and certified libraries to implement C, Python, Perl, and Java applications.
• Secure hosting infrastructure: The Cisco AXP protects against rogue software by enforcing authorization of all software. Only partners and developers can build applications that run on AXP, helping ensure that all AXP-based solutions are of the highest quality and reliability. The AXP infrastructure also provides a layer of protection between Cisco IOS Software and the AXP application, helping ensure a misbehaving application cannot compromise the security and performance of Cisco IOS Software.
Beyond providing a hosting platform within the router, Cisco AXP provides a robust set of APIs, allowing the application to integrate into the network:
• Packet monitoring API: Applications can monitor selected packets flowing through the network for monitoring and analysis purposes. With Cisco AXP, the need for a dedicated span port and complex wiring is no longer necessary.
• Cisco IOS Software information API: Using this API, an application can programmatically query the router to retrieve current configuration, statistics, routing information, and so on. All information available to the Cisco IOS Software CLI and Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) agents are accessible though this interface.
• Event-trigger API: The event-trigger API allows the application to react to changes or events that occur within the router. An application event can be triggered on events such as a router interface failing over, packet loss exceeding a certain threshold, changes to routing-table state, and so on.
• Cisco IOS Software configuration API: The configuration API allows the application to dynamically change the configuration of the router. Used in conjunction with the monitoring, information, and event-trigger APIs, an application can dynamically change the behavior of the router in real time.
• Serial-device API: Cisco AXP provides an application to communicate directly with serial ports of the router, offering the ability for the integrated services router to support connectivity to traditional and nonstandard devices.
The Cisco AXP SDK provides all the tools necessary to package, host, and integrate applications into the router. SDK features include:
• Packaging tools allow the third party to build an installation package. All the complexity of installation, upgrades, dependency management, and recovery is provided as part of the Cisco AXP packaging toolkit:
– The Bundling tool allows developers to create a single image composed of their application, add-on components, and the entire AXP infrastructure. You can install or upgrade to the latest version of the software by downloading a single image.
– Linux software RPM package conversion tools allow the application developer to easily port standard Linux components onto Cisco AXP.
– The Dependency tool helps developers identify missing libraries and executables required by their application.
• A CLI extension API provides all the tools necessary to extend the AXP CLI with custom application commands.
• Header files and source code for the Cisco IOS Software packet, information, event, configuration, and serial APIs offer multiple programming language support, including C/C++, Java, Perl, and shell scripts.
• Example source code illustrates the usage of the APIs.
Cisco AXP Partner Program
The Cisco AXP provides a platform for developing applications that are integrated with Cisco integrated services routers. The Cisco Developer Network (CDN) Program provides the engagement framework for customers, systems integrators, service providers, and independent software vendors (ISVs) interested in developing software on Cisco AXP. The CDN program is comprised of multiple tiers that represent a gradation of engagement services and support from Cisco, including joint marketing and technical support. This creates a tighter linkage between Cisco and its AXP developers.
• AXP developers have the option of evaluating the AXP platform before committing resources through the CDN program. See details here: http://www.cisco.com/go/axp
• CDN provides partners and customers technical enablement for developing new AXP applications through technical documentation, SDKs, developer community support, training, and technical support.
• Strategic ISVs can obtain additional support in their business planning and go-to-market efforts regarding Cisco AXP-based solutions. This level of partnership is evaluated on a case by case basis by the AXP business unit.
Note: Asterik (*) means a NM adapter card is required for this module to work (shown below) within this router.
SKU information for this adapter card is as follows: SM-NM-ADPTR
When purchasing Cisco AXP, you must choose both a hardware option (SRE / APPRE) as well as a software option (AXP).
Services and Support
• Hardware and Cisco AXP runtime support is provided as part of the standard Cisco SMARTnet® support contract for integrated services routers. Support contracts for 3rd-party applications are sold through the ISV. Cisco offers a variety of developer support services for the Cisco AXP product line:
– Customer engagements: Cisco offers full life-cycle customer engagements, based on Cisco Advanced Services methodologies and processes.
– Solutions: Design and implementation of custom solutions is provided to fit specific requirements; some solutions are offered jointly with qualified partners in several industries.
– Training: Cisco can train operators and developers either on- or offsite; designed for AXP network engineers or AXP application developers, training includes instructor-led hands-on exercises.
– Customizable services: As needed by the specific customer environment, Cisco Advanced Services can provide AXP-centric mentoring, architecture sessions, and hands-on exercises.
– Partners training: Dedicated Advanced Services team and lab resources can help new partners learn about AXP.
– Developer support: Self-service support is offered through tools, documentation, and technology forums from the Cisco Developer web portal, or live case-based technical expertise to help developers design, code, and troubleshoot Cisco AXP.
Technical support for development is provided through Developer Services and an annual subscription fee. It requires prior sign-up and approval as a Cisco AXP Development Partner; for more information, visit: http://www.cisco.com/go/axpdev.