Cisco has announced Application Network Services (ANS), a network-based technology designed to improve software performance.

The ANS software will operate inside Cisco's routers, switches and other hardware to bolster the ability to deliver ERP, CRM, financial and other enterprise applications to large businesses, said Cisco's chief development officer, Charles Giancarlo.

"Cisco is helping customers to achieve greater utilisation and effectiveness of their IT investments," said Giancarlo, who is expected to describe the ANS concept in more detail at a briefing Tuesday. "Our latest advanced technology ... builds on Cisco's understanding of networked applications to increase enterprises' return on their IT investments. Application Networking Services enhance the deployment, operation and delivery of business applications to increase the productivity of IT and of users across the extended enterprise."

ANS works over Cisco's new Service-Oriented Network Architecture (SONA) and works to improve middleware in moving applications, he said.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group, said both technologies worked with SOAP and other Web services languages, but they need to be fully explained.

Some customers whom Kerravala said he talked with about ANS and SONA wondered whether the technology really improves application performance to incorporate ANS and SONA inside network hardware elements. "Some question if it's even rational," he said.