Behind the scenes at the Cisco AXP Contest

A contest to "Think Inside the Box" has some unexpected benefits for the open source community

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Today Cisco announced the winners of its AXP contest. If you haven't heard of the contest before, you aren't alone. It was an interesting combination of people, places and events. The goal was to design an application for a relatively new add-on module to Cisco routers called Application eXtension Platform (AXP), a Linux "blade" that allows third-party applications to be integrated with Cisco's IOS router operating system and network applications. It has its own CPU and can store from 1 GB to 160 GB of data, depending on the model. Here is a more details about the AXP.

Earlier this year, Cisco announced the contest and a $100,000 prize purse. They received 100 submissions from teams around the world, and the three finalists were announced this week. Check out the winning entry from MAD Network here – it is a very clever use of a variety of materials to explain their innovation, and I am sure one of the reasons why they won.

Brian Profitt, one of the judges in the contest, wrote about his experiences in a blog post here. When I spoke to him, he was very upbeat about his participation. "Initially, I was skeptical that we needed apps there on the AXP, but after seeing the apps from the contestants, I realized that it is a good thing and they made a believer out of me. It is definitely a platform that you can build something that is useful for businesses. Cisco could have kept this all to themselves and developed all of their apps in house. By having this contest, they opened the door for people that probably wouldn't have gotten to otherwise. They asked people to play with it, and certainly the prize was a big motivation, but this was a very significant move. I am hugely surprised and pleased by the number of international entrants. We had teams from all over the place – South American, Europe, elsewhere. I think this is a product of Cisco's strength and how well they are known globally. I saw a number of women in the demo videos, which also was good too and runs counter to the notion that all coders are men."

Profitt, who is the community manager for Linux.com, think that this is a very viable model for how you can really get developers into your enviroment. It also was his first time working with Cisco too.

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