June 8, 2009, 2:14 pm
Companies are growing more comfortable with the concept of open source development, but they don't always approach it in the same way. Some try to build communities; some try to work in-house first then slowly branch out, and some just jump in with both feet and swim in the deep end from day one.
Cisco Systems seems to be part of that latter group, at least in its approach to building applications for their Application Extension Platform (AXP). The company is eight months into its Think Inside the Box Contest, which introduces developers to Cisco's AXP code and along the way will enhance the AXP's application repetoire. The winner of the contest will receive $50,000 and a chance to work on Cisco's cutting-edge routing technology, and--based on the response thus far--a lot of people have tried for the final prize.
Recently, however, the 10 finalist teams were announced, narrowing down the field of 110 teams (totaling more than 900 entrants) as the contest enters its second phase on the way to the September 2009 announcement of the winners.
The AXP is an open module that is hosted on Cisco's Integrated Services Router and leverages Cisco's Internetwork Operating System (IOS). External applications coded for the ISRs are actually written for the AXP, which is a module that runs Linux certified by the Linux Standard Base and contains open APIs for developers in which to tap.
The 10 finalists represent a large diversity of developers from around the globe, according to Shashi Kiran, Sr. Manager and Lead for Enterprise Routing at Cisco. Kiran indicated that three of the teams hail from North America, three from Europe, two from Asia, and two teams from South America. Having submitted their proposals, the 10 teams are now in Phase 2 of the contest: a 90-day period when they will use AXP technology to actually build a prototype of the application they originally proposed.
Kiran is very pleased with the results of the contest thus far. Cisco was floored by the number of initial entries, and beyond that, Kiran emphasized, "the quality of the proposals was outstanding."
This, of course, made the job of judging the entries that much harder, since there were few entries that could immediately be culled from the pack. But, ultimately that's what the judges were able to do.
When asked what features about the finalists made them stand out from the other entries, Kiran explained that the finalists' entries had a vein of entreprenuership that ran through the entrant teams. He also noted that many of the finalist entries featured solutions that had something to do with collaboration.
Now that the finalists are working on their prototypes, they have until August 15 to complete their work. At that time, they will be judged by a panel of external and internal Cisco judges (dislaimer: I've been asked to be a judge for this contest and have accepted), with the winner announced sometime in September.
For more information on the finalists, visit Cisco's contest web page.