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VARs and ISVs are being brought even closer together by Cisco Systems, as it
looks to drive further into the applications space.

Cisco announced April 10 at its Partner Summit in Honolulu
that it is opening up its ISR (Integrated Services Router) to third-party
developers and customers. ISR and WAAS (Wide Area Application Services) are now
open to application integration as part of Cisco’s Empowered Branch initiative,
which it launched in 2007. To enable this integration, Cisco has launched the
Cisco Application Extension Platform, providing open, Linux-based ISR hardware
modules for application development.

Cisco is encouraging ISVs and developers designing custom applications to
look for a tie-up with its VARs, and vice versa. "This will open up both
sets of customer bases and help them to differentiate with customer applications
tailored to different verticals," said Inbar Lasser-Raab, senior director
of access routing and switching at Cisco.

Cisco said those partners that have already sold integrated applications
with its network platform have on average a 35 percent higher services mix to
their businesses and 20 percent higher gross margin.

To help unite ISVs and solution providers, Cisco has its ISPN (Industry
Solution Partner Network) program, launched in Dublin
in September 2007. The program helps VARs and ISVs develop relationships by
finding each other, providing training and marketing and also providing
financial incentive to solution providers that work with ISVs.

Derek Downs, president of Cistera Networks, has been a
member of the ISPN program since the beginning. He said his company joined
because it wanted to add advanced applications to its IP telephony technology. "ISPN
has allowed us to do this and more. We now have more applications and more
relationships, which helps us to expand our customer base," Downs


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