According to Cisco, AON is intelligent networking. A typical network is a dumb transport: It sends whatever data you give it to wherever you tell it to. AON examines application-to-application messages as they flow through the network to apply routing, security, and other decisions. This functionality is built into a new line of Cisco hardware.
IBM has partnered with Cisco; Cisco is using WebSphere MQ as part of the AON solution.
So what's so important about AON? It's being positioned as no less than the future of SOA. Loosely Coupled's Phil Wainewright examines the claims in Waiting for Cisco and Making sense of AON.
I'm a bit skeptical. The "future of SOA" in this regard is ESB, a mediation layer between service providers and consumers for invoking services synchronously (JAX-RPC-style) and asynchronously (JMS-style). AON may help with this some, but it doesn't sound like AON provides anything close to a full ESB, so I think AON seems to be helping to solve just part of the problem, and the simple part at that. It's gonna take a lot more than intelligent routing to make SOA work.
Sources for more info:
- Chambers Sketches A Grander Role For The Network (InformationWeek)
- Cisco muscles into software (ZDNet)
- Cisco networks to work closer with applications (Reuters)
- Cisco Readies XML Devices, Software (eWeek)
- Cisco readying XML device (ZDNet)
- Cisco eyes the software prize (ZDNet)
- IBM WebSphere Tapped for Cisco Application-Oriented Networking (WebSphere Journal)