Cisco: Huge International Interest in Developer Contest

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Cisco Systems is claiming that international interest in its recently launched contest for router-centric application development has been so strong that it must extend the first-phase deadline from Jan. 12 to Feb. 27.

Cisco announced the extension Monday on a company blog, after previously saying that some people outside of the U.S. had asked for more time so that they could translate the contest to local languages.

"While a majority of the initial registrants were from the U.S. of A., we're seeing the bulk of registrants come from all over the world, both from English speaking countries and non-English speaking countries," said Shashi Kiran of Cisco in a Dec. 10 blog post.

Cisco launched the "Think Inside the Box" contest in October to spark new ideas for the AXP (Application Extension Platform), through which the company is trying to promote its widely deployed Integrated Services Router (ISR) as a target for application development.

The company has put up US$100,000 in prizes. In phase one, registrants submit proposals. Five to 10 finalists will be selected for phase two, where they will implement their idea. Three winners will then be selected.

AXP is a Linux blade that runs within the ISR. Components include a Linux operating system, virtualized application hosting environment, monitoring and configuration APIs (application programming interfaces), and an SDK (software development kit) for preparing and integrating applications with the ISR. The company says AXP provides customers with benefits such as reduced infrastructure in branch offices and savings due to lower power consumption.

Cisco partners have already been working with AXP. For example, Austrian vendor Tiani-Spirit's software is part of the Medical Data Exchange Router, which ties together doctor, hospital and pharmacy systems.

Overall, the router is a logical target for applications, according to one industry observer.

"Routers and other boxes are essentially purpose-driven computers nowadays, so it makes sense to use extra capacity on them, if available, to deploy applications," said Michael Cote, an analyst with Redmonk, in an interview conducted via instant message on Tuesday. "The benefits are getting more direct (and hopefully closer to real-time) access to network traffic which, in turn, lets you do all sorts of things in the security and optimization fields that you can't do without that kind of access."

The level of international interest isn't surprising, Cote said.

"I hate to generalize, but it seems like most tech people I know in North America (maybe Europe) are oriented around building a company from an idea rather than 'spot coding'," he said. "The rest of the world seems to take any sort of paying opportunity available, like with contests."

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