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Eric Bruno

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

Think Inside the Box

January 13, 2009

Before the new year, I had a chance to speak with Cisco about a contest they're holding for developers around their Cisco AXP technology ( AXP stands for Application Extension Platform, which is a development API and service module that runs within the Cisco Integrated Services Router. In a nutshell, AXP allows you to integrate your own business logic directly onto Cisco routers in your network and data centers. 


AXP is a Linux-based environment, allowing you to develop applications in C/C+, Python, and Java. Web service support and SSH services are also included. Additionally, the platform supports multiple applications, each running within their own virtual machine to sandbox them, and maintain security.


The motivation for AXP was the success Cisco has had in the past with integrating partner software components, such as those from Tibco for instance, directly onto their routers. With that success, there has been more focus on bringing other services and applications into the network through network infrastructure and appliances. The advantages of placing applications directly on the router, particularly those that require network services, are:

  -There is one place for patches, support, installation, and so on.

  -You get great customer traction. For instance, there are more than 5 million of these routers deployed, representing 88% market share.

  -There's no need to deploy additional servers or dedicated appliances; you more than likely have Cisco routers in your network/data center already.


"Think Inside the Box" Contest Information 


The AXP contest (see, which is open world-wide, was launched in mid-October, and phase one ends on February 27, 2009. Cisco is looking for developers who have unique applications currently running outside the router, who wish to integrate with the router via AXP. In general, the contest targets application developers, Linux experts, system integrators, as well as those in the network and IT space.


Team sizes can be up to 3 developers, and to get started, simply fill in the proposal template online. Cisco is using a weighted judging criteria for finalists to enter the  second phase. Those teams will be eligible to build their AXP applications, where all back-end infrastructure will be provided with remote development support. Development is a 90-day phase, and the final judging will be done by an independent set of judges from all over the community, via a transparent process.


Three grand-prize winners receive prizes of $50,000, $30,000, and $20,000 respectively.  


Additionally, Cisco does not gain the rights to your contest app; you maintain ownership of the IP. In general, Cisco is looking for contest entrants to be creative and innovative. There are code samples to illustrate how AXP works, and to spark creative thought, and videos to show how existing applications are solving problems in unique ways. With excellent support community, a free and open SDK, a free VM image to get started with little configuration, and an excellent library of code to use, you'll get a running start. 




Cisco and partners have done over 18 months of work so far with AXP, which is an 100% open SDK. When AXP was launched, Cisco did so with 8 vendors and 11 applications, and that list is growing. Examples of existing AXP applications include those in healthcare and medical imaging, financial services and banking, VOIP services, FAX services, and so on. Take a look online for more.


Note: I don't work for Cisco, and I'm not associated with the contest in any way. I just heard about it, thought it was cool and interesting, and decided to share it. And remember, if you happen to win one of the prizes, don't forget who told you about the contest ;-)



Happy coding, and good luck! 


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