14 April, 2008

Cisco Turns Routers Into Linux Application Servers

I've always had a good eye to Cisco's networking equipment, due to the fact that they are administered through a CLI (Command Line Interface), i.e.: POSIX-style ;^)

Now they're integrating a GPL'ed Linux environment on certain so-called "AXP" switches/routers to allow for hosted applications developed with the accompanying standardized SDK and API (which includes standard support for C, Java and Python).

"From a GPL perspective, we've taken all the things that are GPL and reciprocated the code back to the community," Conover said. "Obviously if a developer built an application on top of a GPL platform, that doesn't imply that they have to GPL that code. "

The GPL is a reciprocal license that requires any modification made be contributed back to the community.

Overall, Cisco expects the AXP to reduce the hardware footprint at branch offices and provide deeper network integration that provides IT managers with more control over what they can monitor.

I suppose they realized the potential for hosted applications on network equipment after releasing the WRT54** series of routers through their sister company "Linksys". These routers offer the possibility to flash the firmware, allowing home-brewed firmware/software to be deployed. I have a WRT54GL router @ home, running "DD-WRT" with a few cross-compiled custom apps for network monitoring. And I must say, it gives me monitoring capabilities I never could have imagined a few years ago ;)

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