Cisco unveiled a Web development software platform called Eos, a set of hosted online tools designed, among other things, to allow media and entertainment companies build social networking functions into Web sites.

The platform provides all the features needed to build and manage Web sites, with a specific focus on social networking features like user profiles, member interaction and user-generated content. It also includes data analytics, content management and site administration capabilities.

The first announced client of the Eos platform is Warner Music Group, which worked with Cisco on its development for more than a year, and had tremendous influence over the evolution of the final product. No word yet on whether other labels are planning to adopt the technology.

Cisco charges an upfront licensing fee for the hosted technology, as well as a share of any revenue sites using the technology receive. According to WMG executive VP of digital strategy and business development Michael Nash, the label plans to convert many of its artists' Web sites to the new platform in the year ahead - starting with Laura Izibor and Sean Paul - in order to both reduce Web development costs as well as start monetizing fan traffic.

"This is really about managing these Web sites as businesses," he says. "The business opportunity will drive the need to launch a Web site on an enterprise-level platform."

Cisco will provide assistance in building the sites, ongoing technical support, as well as a consulting team to help operate the sites going forward. Also, Cisco is developing partnerships with companies with expertise in areas like message board moderating, site design as well as other areas, who will assist labels that don’t want to handle those functions themselves.

The Eos platform is a direct challenge to Ning, a do-it-yourself social network provider that powers several artist-branded social networks today.