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Cisco has confirmed plans to open up its holy of holies: it'll let third parties develop applications for the Internetwork Operating System (IOS), the software leg of its cash cow router business.

According to Network World, the move is being driven by Cisco's desire to see more applications run over the network, and be increasingly known for software innovation. It announced the move at its analyst conference last week.

IOS will be redesigned around a Unix-based kernel and the rest of the code chopped into modules, so Cisco can pick and choose which bits it can release to developers without handing over the keys to the kingdom. Application developers will be able to call services from the rejigged IOS modules.

There's no public timescale on the new blueprint yet. IOS was first released more than 20 years ago.

A new IOS has been expected, however. Cisco's main rival, Juniper Networks, said last week it is developing APIs for its router OS. Big enterprise network owners are demanding network applications have more control over the routers they talk to. More here. ®

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