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Enterprise Networks

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miercom_logo.jpgThe application landscape of today’s enterprise space is changing. A proliferation of mobile devices, BYOD initiatives, voice, video, and rich media content at the branch locations adds to the already constrained WAN bandwidth. Now along with delivering the typical enterprise applications, such as email, file, and web access, the network also has to deliver new rich media content, which puts extra strain on the WAN. Cisco WAAS and Akamai Connect are Cisco’s WAN optimization and application acceleration solution, a key pillar of the Cisco Intelligent WAN (Cisco IWAN) architecture. Cisco WAAS and Akamai Connect optimizes web and mobile applications by extending the Akamai Intelligent Platform directly into the branch enhancing the way your users access applications.

 

Recently, Miercom did an independent evaluation of Cisco WAAS with Akamai Connect and comparable WAN-optimization product, Steelhead, enabled with Web Proxy from Riverbed Technology. Cisco is proud to announce that the Cisco solution is now ‘Miercom Performance Verified’. Key findings from the report showcase Cisco’s superior acceleration capabilities including:

 

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Clearly, Cisco WAAS and Akamai Connect comes out on top in the WAN optimization space. With Akamai Connect, we extend Akamai’s intelligent caching to the branch office where most businesses face severe bandwidth constraints and poor end user experience. This is represented in Miercom’s report. Riverbed’s Web Proxy feature also falls short of Cisco solution in terms of HTTP traffic optimization and feature robustness. One of the use cases where Cisco did exceptionally well is Apple OSx download. Riverbed’s Web Proxy cannot cache files greater than 2Gb in size (see graph below).

 

This graph shows that Cisco was able to reduce the amount of time it takes to download the Apple OSx by 97%, whereas Riverbed was not able to optimize the file download at all. Cisco solution empowers the customers to provide real benefits of HTTP caching without the constraint of file size. This gives customers the flexibility and peace of mind that their networks will not get choked when Apple releases a new update.

 

Read the full Miercom report here

 

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts about this report.


The application landscape of today’s enterprise space is changing. The proliferation of mobile devices, BYOD initiatives, voice, video and rich media content at the branch locations adds to the already constrained WAN bandwidth. Now along with delivering the typical enterprise applications, such as email, file, and web access, the network teams have to also deliver new rich media content, which puts extra strain on the WAN. Cisco WAAS and Akamai Connect are Cisco’s WAN optimization and application acceleration solution and part of Cisco Intelligent WAN (Cisco IWAN). Akamai Connect optimizes web and mobile applications by extending the Akamai Intelligent Platform directly into the branch enhancing the way users access applications.

 

Recently, Miercom did an independent evaluation of Cisco WAAS with Akamai Connect and comparable WAN-optimization product, Steelhead enabled with Web Proxy from Riverbed Technology. Cisco is proud to announce that Cisco solution is now ‘Miercom Performance Verified’. The key findings of the report showcase the Cisco’s superior acceleration capabilities including:

 

Slide1.jpg

Clearly Cisco WAAS enabled with Akamai Connect comes on top in the WAN optimization space. With Akamai Connect we have extended Akamai’s intelligent caching to the branch office where most business face severe bandwidth constraints and enhanced the end user experience. This is represented in Miercom’s report when compared with Riverbed’s Steelhead solution. Riverbed’s Web Proxy feature falls short in terms of the optimization and features it can provide the HTTP traffic. One of the use cases where Cisco did exceptionally well was Apple OSx download. Riverbed’s Web Proxy cannot cache files greater than 2Gb in size.

 

blog1.png

 

The graph shows that Cisco was able to reduce the amount of time it takes to download the Apple OSx by 97% where as Riverbed was not able to optimize the file download at all. Cisco solution empowers the customers to provide real benefits of HTTP caching without the constraint of file size. This gives our customers the flexibility and peace of mind that their networks will not get choked when Apple releases a new update.

 

Read the full Miercom report here and for more information go to Cisco WAAS.

Cisco launched the new Integrated Services Routers (ISRs) 4000 in 2014 and promised ASIC like performance for most features. Cisco internal test reports, of course, claimed that was true. Finally, in July of 2015, these routers were put to the test by Miercom, an independent company.

In this performance test all five platforms (ISR4321, ISR4331, ISR4351, ISR4431 and ISR4451) were configured with various single features, like NAT, HQoS and IPSec, and also some combinations of these features. All ISR 4000 have a platform-wide shaper that guarantees a certain performance, therefore, the CPU utilization was recorded to give an indication of the actual platform utilization.

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The results: plenty of CPU performance was available in all single feature tests, and all ISR 4000 platforms were able to perform to their advertised limits, including 1520 Mbit/s of payload encrypted by the ISR4451! Only in some very heavy service combinations did the ISR 4000 slow down a bit.

 

After a rigorous testing over a time-span of several weeks, Miercom was very impressed with the ISR 4000 performance and gave Cisco the “Performance Verified” logo.

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This should allow Service Providers, Partners and End-Customers to deploy the ISR 4000 Series routers in their network knowing that they can deliver what they promise, best of breed performance!

The complete test report including all test results can be found on Miercom’s web page: http://miercom.com/pdf/reports/20150817.pdf

 

If you have questions around this report or the ISR4k in general, feel free to comment here or just send me a tweet @MirkoGrabel.

I am excited to see the announcement of ASR1009-X, ASR1006-X and ASR1000-MIP100 with 1x100GE EPA last month. As you know, the ASR 1000 Series Aggregation Services Router has been a leading edge service routing platform since 2008. Since then, there have been some exciting new members joining the ASR family. This time, the excitement isn’t just because of the latest additions, it’s what they are bringing to this product family and its very broad user base.

 

 

First let’s take a look at what they are. ASR1009-X and ASR1006-X are the all-new X generation of modular ASR1000 chassis types. Combined with them, ASR1000-MIP100 and 1x100GE EPA can provide true 100Gbps per slot capability to ASR 1000 edge services. Compared to existing models (ASR1004, ASR1006 and ASR1013 or ASR1000-SIP40), they inject more power into the relatively compact modular ASR1000 with:

  • Higher per-slot bandwidth (100Gbps)
  • Up to 200Gbps per ASR1009-X and 100Gbps per ASR1006-X
  • More efficient power supply redundancy mode (N+1)
  • More power headroom (6 power supply unit slots in total) for future system capacity upgrade
  • Independent FAN modules for lower OPEX
  • 100Gbps per port for high-speed services
  • Support of various Ethernet port types with future EPAs
  • Mix and match different EPAs in same ASR1000-MIP100

 

To many of us, the above list is straightforward in terms of how they are better than the current generation. But when it comes to benefits for network engineers (existing or future), the advantages that come with those new ASR 1000 systems and modules are probably more than that.

 

The feature-rich ASR 1000 IOS-XE software now has a more solid delivery vehicle to unleash its power in network edge services, especially with IWAN, AVC, crypto, WAAS and Firewall/NAT (Network Address Translation). If you need a platform to deliver services in (secured) WAN aggregation, WAN core, Data Center Interconnect and Internet edge, then congratulations – you now have stronger option to consider.

 

Now you can have up to 200Gbps of system bandwidth and a mix of high-density 1GE, 10GE and 100GE ports using 40G and 100G Ethernet modules. Simultaneously, you can maintain your legacy services and make the transition to Ethernet at a time of your choosing using the help of SIP40 and SPAs. 

 

With the edge at 100Gbps connectivity and powerful services, your network will now truly become future-proof with service capability and capacity that will meet your growth requirement for many years to come.

 

Please join us at CiscoLive in Berlin February 15-19, 2016 to witness what will enable your next-generation network edge for the future.

 

What do you think of these new products?  Please leave a comment.  I want to hear your opinions and use cases.

Most branches have the need for local compute resources. They are required to host WAN acceleration application like Cisco virtual WAAS. In the retail industry, it is required that the Point of Sale application can continue to process orders when the WAN connection is down. Another example is the requirement to secure Direct Internet Access (DIA) line via Cisco’s virtual ASA from infecting end devices in the branch with malware like viruses. A physical server gives IT administrators the flexibility to load any application required for a specific branch.


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But in most branches, a standalone server is simply overkill for the lean branch IT requirements. This is why Cisco came out with the Cisco UCS E-Series Servers. These modules can be directly inserted in the Service Module slot of any Cisco ISR G2 or ISR 4k branch router.

However, the trend to move more and more compute to the data center or the cloud continues; therefore, the need for even smaller compute modules rises. This is why Cisco recently launched the new Cisco UCS E-Series Network Compute Engine modules.

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These lightweight modules can be inserted in a network integrated module (NIM) or double wide

EHWIC slot. As a result, even the smallest modular ISRs can now host a server module which lowers the total cost of ownership of the branch compute solution. Even though these modules are less robust and powerful than their Service Module counterparts, they have the capacity to host the most critical branch applications like a print server, file server or at least the Point of Sale application. Because these modules are generic compute modules, a variety of operating systems and hypervisors, including Microsoft Windows Server 2012, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Microsoft Hyper-V and VMWare ESXi, are supported. You can find a full list of supported software on our UCS E-Series Datasheet.


 

 

I also made a short video where I highlight some of the key components of these modules. Check it out here:



If you want more video tutorials or have any questions around these modules, feel free to comment here or just send me a tweet @MirkoGrabel.

October 21, 2015 was “Back to the Future Day.” Michael J. Fox had a glimpse into his futuristic world. What if you too had the same capability? Imagine this: you’re an astronaut on a time travel space mission. You come upon a futuristic world years from today, and this is what you see.

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Image Caption: A vortex of insurmountable force is sucking you and the surrounding environment into the abyss, yet you’re still attached to the present. You still have control. (It is a visual presentation of a Digital Vortex, working its way into becoming a black hole, putting your business at risks.) Image Source: Lightfarm Studios


Armed with this vision, what would you do if today is your “Back to the Future” day?

This is a continuation of a previous post by Hugo Vliegen, Digital Vortex, Part I: How Not to Be the 40% That Will Fail. (Re-read that post here). In this blog (part II), I will share four key tenets of a digital business network, a.k.a recommendations for the hypothetical NeedToChange company scenario (as referenced in part I). >>Read more...

FixCar

When I was little, my father kept our family car in tip-top shape. He overhauled brakes, rebuilt engines, tuned carburetors, and swapped out suspensions. He could do just about anything, and he knew every component, inside and out.

From an early age, I enjoyed “helping” my father whenever there was a chance. I handed him wrenches, brought him cool glasses of water on hot summer days, and held the flashlight when the repairs went late into the night. Perhaps he could have managed without my help, but we both enjoyed our time together. Even more importantly, I learned from an early age how a little help could make a big difference.

At Cisco, we believe in the power of people helping people. We believe everyone could use a little help sometimes to save time, energy, and to get the most out of what they already have. We may not have a cool glass of water to offer, but we can hand you a useful tool or two while you’re working “under the hood” of your network. This is why we created Cisco Active Advisor.

What is Cisco Active Advisor?

Cisco Active Advisor is a free, automated, web-based advisory service that:

  • Discovers and inventories Cisco Enterprise products in your network
  • Keeps you up-to-date on the overall status of important product milestones and alerts
  • Recommends improvements to get the most from your Cisco network investment

With Cisco Active Advisor, there is nothing to buy and nothing to install. To get started, you simply need a Cisco.com account and a web browser.

How does Cisco Active Advisor work?

Cisco Active Advisor

It’s really pretty simple. Anyone with a Cisco.com account can visit the portal, find and register Cisco products inside their network, and use the tools and reports the service provides.

The service will discover Enterprise NetworkSwitching, Routing, and Wireless devices as well as any line cards or modules that might be installed.

Active Advisor will continue to look for new alerts and important product milestones and send email notifications based on your preferences.

Cisco Active Advisor is updated with cool new features, additional product support, and bug fixes every few weeks.

If you find something you like about the service or have ideas for new features, drop us a note from inside the Active Advisor portal or connect with me @mtwhitley. We read everything sent in, and we’d love to add your ideas into the service.

How do I get started?

Visit www.ciscoactiveadvisor.com, log in with your Cisco.com account, and click Add Devices. It’s free, always on, and available right now.

Give the service a try. We will be right here helping hold the flashlight so you can keep your business, and your network, running its best.

Oh, it’s a reality, not a hype. (Check out my video below.)

One key strength of Cisco’s Integrated Services Routers (ISRs) is the feature-rich Command Line Interface (CLI). The benefit of the CLI is that it is extremely flexible and adding new features is very simple. The drawback is that you have to go through pages of command reference guides to understand how to configure and use these features. Today, most customers prefer to configure their router via an intuitive Graphical User Interface (GUI) instead of typing every command through the legacy CLI.

This requirement is not new, and Cisco had launched the Secure Device Manager (SDM) already in 2002. A few years later, the next revision of this tool was launched under the name “Cisco Configuration Professional – Express,” in short CCP Express. CCP Express is still widely used today. With the recently launched 3.2 version, it received a major facelift and feature enhancements. Some key features in v3.2 include:

  • An easy to use wizard that can go through the entire initial router setup in seconds

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This new CCP Express version 3.2 is available on all ISR G2 and ISR 800 series and will simplify the configuration of ISRs. And the best thing about it: it’s free, and it can be factory-installed on a brand new router. Check out my short video where I show the “Quick Setup Wizard” including some basic troubleshooting and the configuration of AVC here:



Call to action: Download CCP Express for your router and challenge yourself!

Can you configure an ISR faster than me?

If you want more video tutorials around CCP Express, feel free to comment here or just send me a tweet @MirkoGrabel.

Not surprisingly, as a networking company Cisco frequently publishes predictions on the growth of Internet traffic. Bragging unintended, typically the forecasts are pretty accurate. In a 2012 report we predicted that by 2017 there would be 2.5 devices and related connections for every person on earth, while there would be 5 devices and related connections for every Internet user in the same year. In the same report, we also predicted that this burst in hyperconnectivity – including machine to machine connections that are increasingly prevalent with growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) – would create more global network traffic in 2017 alone than in all prior “Internet years” combined.

How correct were our predictions? You don’t have to wait until 2017 for an answer. Welcome to the early arrival of the future of networked communications – a future where the hyper-distribution of information is driving new business demands, and where the old rules of data management and analytics no longer apply. Data is no longer passive. Central stores of stale information aren’t sufficient. Analytics can’t be an afterthought. The new rules require that you live your business daily on the edge of your network, where vital customer and market data is created. And you need to be prepared to respond to what you learn immediately. Are you ready to live on the edge?

The Future is Now . . . Like it or Not

Pervasive connectivity and ubiquitous cloud services have reset user expectations for all types of products and services. A wider and wider variety of connected endpoints combined with mobile and cloud service delivery expands both the kinds and types of data generated by and about users, as well as the devices and the processes that connect them. Data may come from various sources – operations, infrastructure, sensors, etc. Machine intelligence will become better and better, replacing human reasoning in some cases.  And, like humans, machines will develop deeper and deeper insights through continuous learning over time. The good news is that increasingly intelligent machines will free humans for even bigger thinking – and the process will keep repeating itself – machines and humans cooperating for a more intelligent whole.

But the network’s edge ultimately belongs to the end-user. Consumers are well positioned to define and demand a technology experience that meets their specific requirements. Enterprises undergoing digital transformation understand this. Using IT automation, these companies are moving intelligence and analytics to the edge of the network to understand how to benefit from this new perspective.  Put simply, analysis is moving to where the data is generated for instant business insights.

The list of challenges for companies coping with the nature and the speed of digital transformation is a long one. Here are a few of the most critical:

  • The variety of data on the network increases with every new application used
  • High velocity, valuable information from market data, mobile, sensors, clickstream, transactions and other sources requires a new approach to data management
  • Almost universal connectivity has reset user expectations for all types of services
  • Data insights are often perishable and need to be acted on immediately
  • Competitive pressures and increasing customer expectations require that businesses anticipate customer needs, react instantly, and make decisions in real-time

Car_shopper_insights

Shape the Edge to Your RequirementsEnterprises of all kinds are responding to these challenges in innovative ways to gain competitive advantage. One example is retailers, which I profiled in an earlier blog on the future of shopping. Merchants understand that the longer a shopper remains in a store the more likely the prospect is to purchase. So, if a retailer can increase a shopper’s “dwell time,” it is more likely to stimulate a purchase.  We’re seeing retailers do this today as they measure where, how and why buyers make decisions on the path to purchase starting at the network’s edge. Through customized applications that permit the retailer to analyze real-time customer engagement with products or in-store displays, the retailer gains immediate insights that let it customize a promotional offer by individual and then push the offer instantly to the consumer’s device. This sort of personalized interaction also creates a better customer experience.From a service provider’s perspective, knowing the habits of your mobile customers can help it improve service delivery, lower costs and enhance customer loyalty. Again, this knowledge starts at the edge of the network by analyzing continuous feedback on the use habits of mobile subscribers. For example, a service provider can determine unique and new clients, analyze usage by day, week or month, gather active session information to identify network usage patterns or manage promotional programs, determine authenticated vs. unauthenticated associations to identify potential subscribers, or grab information on total data usage to pinpoint network anomalies or usage spikes. These and other edge measurements can then be further analyzed for trends. Automation enables the analysis. The analysis, in turn, creates fast decision-making, which leads to concrete business outcomes.The Way Forward . . .If you believe living on the edge is vital to your business, it’s important to have a strategic framework in which to manage your digital transition. First, think of your analytics’ needs in three parts:  1. Real time analysis; 2. Data management; 3. Flexibility of use. Then, demand that the analytics solution you choose to move forward with addresses the requirements for each part as I describe below:1. Real Time Analysis

  • Real-time trending
  • Dynamic dashboards
  • Predictive analytics integration
  • Continuous queries
  • Event generation

2. Data Management

  • Ability to combine information from network and applications
  • Seamlessly query live and historic data
  • Historic reporting framework

3. Flexibility

  • Analysis of complex queries from fact streams and dimensional data
  • North/south and east/west interfaces for customization
  • Multi-vendor extensibility

Living on the edge of your network doesn’t have to be intimidating. In fact, you’ll come to like the speed at which you’ll find new business insights. Cisco can help in your transformation to a digital business with automation and analytics at its core. I plan to share more on this topic at the Cisco Data and Analytics Conference on October 20-22 in Chicago. I hope you can join me at that time.

Meanwhile, I’m interested to hear how you feel about the importance of managing and analyzing data at the edge of your network. What are the issues and opportunities that you see?

Please feel free to comment, share and connect with us @CiscoEnterprise, Facebook, LinkedIn and the Enterprise Networks Community.

Economics of Network Downtime

Infonetics Research recently released a study that claims businesses (just in North America alone) lose as much as $100 million a year due to network downtime. Let us dissect that into numbers you and I can relate to.

  • On average, businesses suffer from 14 (CA Technologies) to 87 hours (Gartner) of downtime per year.
  • A conservative estimate pegs the hourly cost of network downtime at $42,000 (Gartner).
  • The cost of unplanned downtime per minute is between $5,600 and $11,000 (Ponemon Institute).
  • MTTR (mean time to resolution) per outage, on average, is 200 minutes (ITT Process Institute).

For a quick/rough calculation of your own potential revenue lost, use this equation provided by North American International Systems (NASI). Read more here.

LOST REVENUE = (GR/TH) x I x H
Where:
GR = gross yearly revenue
TH = total yearly business hours
I = percentage impact
H = number of hours of outage
Service costs are rarely zero.

Most businesses associate network downtime with force majeure events or security breaches, but such isn’t always the case. Their own employees could induce it too. For many, that was the case every September. This post is not about a challenge, but a growth hacking opportunity (transformed from an IT challenge). Rather than calculating potential revenue lost, you could count revenue growth instead. Tell me more...

We are excited to announce that Cisco will be participating in Wireless Field Day 8 this year! Cisco is bringing together independent bloggers, speakers, and podcasters to share best practices and opinions in a two-hour interactive discussion format. All presentations will be live streamed from the Tech Field Day website October 1, 2015 beginning at 9:30 am PT.

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Cisco is focusing on operational simplicity, and will cover the following topics at #WFD8:

802.11ac Wave 2 and Mobility Express: We will be discussing how 802.11ac Wave 2 provides customers new capabilities found in the Cisco Aironet 1830 and 1850 Access Points such as Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) and their advantages. We will also demonstrate how Mobility Express can be deployed in less than 10 minutes, ideal for smaller businesses who want an uncompromised enterprise-class solution without the big IT staff to manage it. Learn more about 802.11ac and Cisco Mobility Express.

Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) 10.2 and Location Update: We will be discussing updates on Cisco Wi-Fi location solution as well as our industry-first Hyperlocation technology. You’ll see how Cisco has made capturing location services and connecting guests with personalized portals easier than ever. Along with that we will show the progression from basic Presence Analytics to 1-meter accuracy Hyperlocation, how it works, and the physical Access Points involved. Our speaker will also be discussing the details of CMX 10.2 and demonstrate the new capabilities of the software. Learn more about CMX andHyperlocation.

Meraki Systems Manager: In this session we’ll be giving an overview of Systems Manager (SM) including scale, integration with other Meraki products, and the transition from free to paid. There will be a focus on the SM Sentry feature set and how it provides simple yet powerful security functionality for organizations with Meraki network equipment. This will be illustrated with a live demo of the Systems Manager Sentry features in the Meraki dashboard. Learn more about Systems Manager.

Please feel free to comment, share and connect with us @CiscoEnterprise, Facebook, LinkedIn and the Enterprise Networks Community.

With the mobile and cloud based applications gaining ground in most enterprises, enterprise networks have become the center-stage of the IT’s strategy. So much so that the ability to conduct business directly depends on whether the network is operational or not – at all times. However, to build a reliable network you have to be very familiar with all features, and you also have to test the design to ensure that it really does what you require it to do.

To fulfill this need, Cisco has the Global Online Learning Delivery (GOLD) labs for Cisco Partners. If it is required to run a custom topology that can also be hosted on a private server, Cisco offers the Virtual Internet Routing Labs (VIRL).  I am excited to tell you about another option with Ravello – the CSR 1000v option on Ravello Repo.

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There is a growing trend amongst enterprises to outsource part of their IT infrastructure to the cloud, and the need to test these hybrid designs is getting bigger each passing day. To address this need,  Cisco has added the free version of the Cisco Cloud Services Router (CSR) 1000v to Ravello Repo – an online repository of fully functional ‘blueprints’, that prospects can try with a click of a button. Simply open a Ravello trial account, add the CSR 1000v VM to your library and you are up and running.

Ravello Systems is an overlay cloud provider, which enables one to create full-featured virtual networking labs on top of AWS & Google. The biggest value propositions for testing your Cisco Network on Ravello are:

  • Ability to run VMware & KVM versions of CSR 1000v with one click
  • Access to clean Layer 2 network (one has access to multicast, broadcast etc.)
  • Create a network design using either your own Cisco network appliances or ones added from Ravello Repo
  • Cloud independence – one is not tied to a cloud provider

With the CSR1000v now being available on Ravello Repo, anybody can easily test a small network in the cloud and even simulate how their physical datacenter could be extended by adding services that are hosted inside a private  cloud provider. This helps network administrators and architects to implement and operate networks more reliably than ever before!

Testing the CSR1000v on Ravello is only the tip of the iceberg. Ravello offers a generic virtual networking environment that you could run any Cisco virtual appliance and try it out! Here is a short video of how you can create your own CSR 1000v deployment using Ravello.

Happy testing and don’t forget to share your experience with me (@MirkoGrabel).

Do you know if you have all right automation and analytic tools to effectively manage the operational lifecycle of your network equipment? Here’s a simple network “IQ” test to find out. For the following questions, answer “yes” or “no”:

  1. Is your network infrastructure inventory process always timely, accurate and complete?
  2. Can you immediately access and view the most current status of your network devices online?
  3. Do you know the correct location of all your remote devices?
  4. Are you sure all your network devices have the right IOS installed?
  5. Do all your devices have the latest protection against security vulnerabilities?
  6. Is it easy to manage all your service contracts, so more time can be spent on strategic IT initiatives versus administrative tasks?
  7. Can you proactively address network problems before they occur?
  8. Do you have an automated system that helps make your installed base lifecycle management easier, faster and more productive?
  9. Are the analytical solutions in place to help you quickly translate data into insights, especially for data dynamically gathered at the edge of your network?

If you answered “yes” to all these questions – congratulations! You clearly have a great process for managing the lifecycle of your Cisco network equipment. If you answered “no” to one or more of the questions, there’s room to raise your network operations IQ. Use this checklist to raise your score.

Use this checklist to raise your score.

  1. Automated, Dynamic Discovery
    Manual installed base discovery is slow, error-prone and often incomplete. Using a Cisco or third party collector for discovery purposes can provide a timely, automated and comprehensive view of your Cisco network devices. Moreover, when network equipment is moved, added, changed or retired, you’ll be able to accurately track your inventory to ensure a proper count, accurate replacement and proper service coverage.
  2. Get the Big Picture
    Many enterprise networks are comprised of thousands of Cisco devices that may include chassis, cards, phones, videoconferencing units and much more. You need the ability to see your entire inventory — across multiple locations and timeframes. But don’t rely just upon simple information like model numbers. Insist on deeper device analytics, such as service coverage status, serial numbers and operating system information.
  3. A Single Pane of Glass
    Command and control of your network installed base is made far simpler when you have a way of both seeing and analyzing all the inventory data available to you in one place. A network portal is ideal for this purpose. Using one screen, you should be able to access the status and related metrics for all your devices, including the ability to create customized views if you wish.
  4. Actionable Analytics
    Look for a solution that provides you with in-depth analytics, including the ability to adapt analysis to your company’s specific needs. Reports should include critical insights into service coverage management, security alerts, product lifecycle status and incident management. Also, consider the need to automatically schedule reports at specific intervals, so they are ready instantly when you or another team member may require them.
  5. Process Produces a Better Product
    When you move to an automated IB lifecycle management approach, it changes the way you work for the better. You should put the processes in place to regularly maintain your inventory to protect it from ongoing risks, share reports throughout your organization with those who may benefit, and use IB information to create business outcomes.
  6. Assisted Human Intelligence
    When you can’t resolve a problem on your own, look to instantly reach the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) from a portal. The TAC can help resolve a problem more quickly through access to detailed inventory data pre-populated by a Cisco smart services solution like Smart Net Total Care, which feeds specific device information into the TAC’s Smart Data Advantage system. No longer do service calls to Cisco need to begin with the question, “What’s the serial number of the product?” The TAC Engineer already has the answer.

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As a long time networking veteran, I’ve watched our industry change and respond to a wide variety of disruptive changes. I remember PictureTel ISDN videoconferences on the IBM PC. Then came  IP video conferencing in the early ’90s.  Things picked up 1991, when Microsoft launched Windows Media Player 1.0.

Though Windows Media Player and Microsoft Multimedia Extensions arrived without much fanfare, they ushered in the ability to record and playback audio, and display high-performance graphics on the desktop PC — a feature, prior to that time, reserved for high-end graphics workstations such as the Commodore AMIGA.

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But these capabilities were the foundation that led to video streaming in 1995. And, as we know, the future of the Internet, and the network, would never be the same.  (Obligatory Rick-roll omitted)

Today, I watch younger generations (such as my own children) take for granted the networks that are all around them. Social media as we know it was (and is) clearly fueled by our endless appetite to create and share content with the whole world.  Unlike the Internet of the 1990’s, today, you can do it all from the palm of your hand.

Somewhere behind the scenes, racks of network hardware and software algorithms crunch billions of  digital fragments of information every second.  As a long time networking geek, I can’t help but marvel at how far we’ve come – creating intelligent networks that move and process billions of bits every second.  Despite the torrent of traffic, the networks are robust enough to perfectly deliver an 8 kbps voice call half-way around the globe, even as it competes with the million minutes of video traversing the network each second (that’s where we’re headed – according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index).

And while all this Internet trivia is fun – the fact is, the same  delicate dance is happening right now on networks in your business, school, or office. Today’s modern networks are an amazing combination of high performance hardware and intricate software which intelligently differentiates between “nice to have” and “business critical”. That software enables business continuity, disaster recovery, fault tolerance, and 24×7 operations. New innovations in software are streamlining automation and enabling new business processes. We are connecting things never before connected – the internet of things – in almost every industry imaginable: manufacturing, public safety, education, health care, transportation, and more.   Many of those new IP-enabled networks have required software innovations to deliver capabilities similar to the proprietary networks the devices once communicated on.

At the heart of all these innovations is a new breed of network software, one which is modernizing our business.   In this month’s Software Magazine, Cisco Sr. Director Dan Lohmeyer looks at the modernization of network software, and how it will change the way organizations think about their network and the capabilities it can deliver. I invite you to read Dan’s article here – http://www.softwaremag.com/the-modernization-of-network-software/ and join the conversation with us.

We are excited to share that Cisco will be participating in Networking Field Day 10 this year. Cisco brings together independent thought leaders and our engineers to share information and opinions in a two-hour interactive discussion format. If you cannot attend NFD10 all presentations will be live streamed from the Tech Field Day website.

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These are the topics Cisco is covering this year at #NFD10:

Intelligent WAN (IWAN) Architecture: We are busting the myth that IWAN is part of a marchitecture and explaining DMVPNv3, Pfrv3, and AVC. We will also be expanding on how the IWAN architecture improves scale and performance while delivering better business outcomes for customers. Learn more about Cisco Intelligent WAN.

Branch Security: We will be showing how our security solutions simplify WAN provisioning. We will also explain how Cisco protects and hardens the network from outside attacks and security vulnerabilities. Topics covered during this presentation are Crypto, Certification CC, FIPS, NSA Suite B, and Security Designs. Learn more about Cisco Security.

Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN): Our presenter will be demonstrating how our APIC-EM Controller with IWAN App provides centralized configuration and orchestration for the WAN while doing a live demo. Learn more about SD-WAN.

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