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The ACE in Cisco's Pipeline

Cisco Systems today made its application delivery software a reality, unveiling the Application Control Engine (ACE) to pipe data at up to 16 gigabits per second (Gbps) of throughput.

The software module, designed for the popular Catalyst 6500 Series Switch, speeds applications to their destinations and lets IT administrators create up to 250 logical devices that can be managed and operated separately while guaranteeing resources for each partition.

ACE also shuffles application resources to balance computing workloads, while its security policy tools allow IT administrators to control who accesses the network by delegating application administration to operational teams.

The software also has built into it an application performance interface (API) to process XML.

These combined benefits improve application delivery by slashing the time and resources needed to deploy and manage network infrastructure, Cisco said in a statement.

Oracle, for example, uses ACE to improve the delivery performance of Oracle Fusion Middleware 10g for its customers. SAP and NetFlix also use ACE.

Cisco also announced today a new security software module for the Application Velocity System (AVS), its application acceleration and security appliance.

The new module works adds bi-directional application inspection and protection while eliminating application vulnerabilities.

ACE and AVS are part of Cisco's offering to speed applications to market where time-sensitive transactions are the rule, not the exception.

The XML API and role-based security perks should help companies employing XML-based distributed computing systems, such as service-oriented architectures (SOA)  and Web services  networks.

The ACE module is available now at speeds of 4, 8 and 16 Gbps for $39,995, $59,995, and $99,995, respectively. Customers may upgrade performance and scalability of the ACE through purchase of software licenses.

The AVS module will be available in early May for $10,000.

While not as sexy as pure SOA or Web services niches, the application deployment space is fraught with competition by rivals who believe customers crave networks that shuttle and process application data at great speeds.

IBM bought DataPower last year to achieve such capabilities, while Reactivity and Forum Systems remain standalone competitors in the application deployment market.

Forum Systems bought Kenai Systems earlier this year to add vulnerability assessment and policy compliance to the mix.

Cisco hopes ACE will help the company differentiate itself among those competitors, such as Oracle and SAP.