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Cisco Maps Out New Plan for Managing Networks

Cisco network management
Cisco's Jesper Andersen
Source: Cisco
What can networking giant Cisco learn from software application giant Oracle? Apparently quite a bit.

With the help of a former Oracle executive, Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) is charting a new path it says will bring innovative solutions to the world of network management.

Jesper Andersen, former senior vice president of application development at Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL), has been Cisco's senior vice president of network management in the company's technology division for nearly six months. He's responsible for the applications that will let users manage Cisco equipment.

At Oracle, he helped lead the company's overall application strategy. Prior to that, he was an executive at PeopleSoft.

In an in depth interview with InternetNews.com, Andersen argued that though Cisco is doing many things right today, it can still do better. Specifically, he says that he plans to push for more open standards, consistency and re-use across Cisco's management portfolio.

Cisco's renewed network management push comes as the networking vendor is pushing deeper into new areas like Web 2.0 collaboration technologies and an expected blade application server that could be announced as soon as Monday.

"Coming from Oracle and PeopleSoft and having the application angle, I can certainly appreciate all the additional stuff that needs to be done," Andersen said.

"ERP and CRM applications have automated to a various extent all the various manual tasks that people perform," he added. "The next step is to embed collaboration deeper into the process. With all the technology we have at Cisco -- WebEx, unified communications, all those things -- it's pretty exciting for Cisco."

Andersen added that because of his background in applications, collaboration is near and dear to his heart, and commented that improvements in the category will improve productivity and managing various workloads.

Overall, Andersen has a few key priorities for moving Cisco's network management business forward from an application point of view.

"Being a software guy coming to Cisco, one of the things I don't think we've done well is getting to a more modern, layered software architecture," Andersen said. "What I mean by that is we have a lot of great network management applications but we haven't really achieved what I would consider to be an acceptable level of re-use and componentization across that portfolio of products. Most of those products have their own ways of interfacing with the equipment and their own user interface."

Andersen argued that the problem is also one of consistency, an area on which he intends to focus as well. In his view, Cisco today does a very good job of ensuring that all the various features of its switches and routers are available and accessible. Still, he thinks that Cisco can do a better job of ensuring accessibility in a consistent way.

"With a consistent modern interface, whether its XML-based, [Simple Network Management Protocol, or SNMP ], or otherwise, we need consistency," Andersen said. "We need to have a consistent look and feel working with our applications."

Next page: Open Standards