Having had a great time at EDUCAUSE 2012 in Denver this year, I wanted to follow-up on an interesting story from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Universities around the country are using technology to drive greater levels of knowledge sharing and improve the effectiveness of education, and our friends at CU Boulder are no excpetion.
The mobility trend holds great promise for improved productivity and new engagement models. These are most powerful in a learning effort—imagine learning anywhere and anytime. I just wish I had the Internet and the mobility that students have today when I went to school. Yet, mobility is an IT tsunami that will not recede. One of the most damaging aspects of this storm is the possibility of numerous personal devices that are entering organizations, accessing the network and eventually critical assets, and stealing sensitive data or mistakenly bringing malware. Many people know this policy as BYOD or bring your own device. This is not a new phrase but it is still quite prevalent. Inventory and provisioning of personal mobile devices is just the tip of this wave. Organizations want to control mobile devices to ensure acceptable usage and minimize security incidents.
We’ve talked about how the Internet is forecast to carry a million minutes of video every second in the next few years, and how Cisco’s Elastic Core solution will help the core infrastructure carry that load. But a scalable and flexible core is only one piece of the puzzle that network operators need. Who else is helping to make a video-centric future a reality?
One place to look is a solution that’s been developed by Miami, FL based NxtGn and Virginia-based Telarix. We wrote about NxtGn’s affiliate Next Communications last year, they’ve been successful in wholesale voice communications, in part due to in-house technology paired with an off-the-shelf Cisco ASR 1000 router performing Session Border Control functionality. Packing a softswitch and an SBC that can handle 16K voice or HD video calls in half a rack has enabled them to minimize their costs in a relatively low-margin market. Telarix isn’t as well known outside of the carrier market – they specialize in what is known as “interconnect business optimization” – basically the back-office components to handle billing, auditing, and traffic routing between carriers. While the concept of billing and auditing might make your eyes glaze over, if carriers can’t figure out how to bill for services rendered you can imagine they view that as a really bad thing.
Cisco’s Smart Grid Team is excited to support the Wireless Smart Utility Network Alliance (Wi-SUN). Lionel Chocron, vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Connected Energy Networks Business, will be representing Cisco on the Wi-Sun board of directors. Cisco will be joining at the promoter level and the entire team is looking forward to helping drive the development of interoperable Field Area Networks (FAN) for utility applications.
Field Area Networks today are often closed, proprietary systems and generally just supporting a single service. As a result, they do not support interoperability across multiple vendors or take advantage of the decades of networking expertise available within the Internet Protocol suite (IP).
By supporting Wi-SUN, Cisco will help drive the technical definition for standards based, multi service, secure, and scalable Field Area Networks. The Field Area Networks will support important utility use cases including Automatic Metering Infrastructure, Outage Management, and Distribution Automation.
The Wi-SUN defined Field Area Network will be based upon the IP protocol suite, with the initial release based on IEEE 802.15.4g PHY and 802.15.4e MAC wireless mesh technologies. Usage of the IP protocol suite will provide many benefits, including the ability to support additional PHY/MAC technologies in the future.
Our team will further assist in the development of certification testing and “plug-fests” for regions around the world. This will ensure international interoperability between multiple vendors implementing the Wi-SUN defined Field Area Network.
“We are very pleased to be joining the Wi-SUN alliance, and look forward to collaborating with our industry partners to bring interoperable, standards based utility Field Area Networks to reality,” said Lionel Chocron, vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Connected Energy Networks Business Unit.
Other companies who are promoters of the Wi-Sun alliance include:
Further details about the Wi-SUN Alliance can be found here
Cisco Connected Grid products and solution information is available here
When playing in the high speed switching game -- timing is everything. Timing ‘sets the pace’ for visibility to established the ‘where and when,’ correlation across a broad computing environment plus compliance and digital forensics with precision time stamps. Every element of the data center requires accurate timing at a level that leaves no room for error.
Speed is the other, more celebrated, if not obvious requirement, for the high speed switching game. Speed that is measured in increments requiring some new additions to my vocabulary.
When looking at the ways in which we measure speed and regulate time throughout the network, I was of course familiar with NTP or Network Time Protocol. NTP provides millisecond timing…which, crazy enough…is WAY TOO SLOW for this high speed market. Now being from the South, I may blink a little slower than other people but I read that the average time it takes to blink an eye…is 300 to 400 milliseconds! A millisecond is a thousandth of a second. That is considered slow?
Turns out ‘micro-second’ level detail is our next consideration. A microsecond is equal to one millionth (10−6 or 1/1,000,000) of a second. One microsecond is to one second as one second is to 11.54 days. To keep our blinking example alive: 350,000 microseconds. Still too slow.
Next unit of measure? The Nanosecond. A nanosecond is one billionth of a second. One nanosecond is to one second as one second is to 31.7 years. Time to blink is just silly at this point.
At one point in time I used to think higher speeds were attainable with higher degrees of bandwidth. This may be why the idea of ‘low latency’ seems so counter-intuitive. As you hopefully understand at this point, there are limitations to how fast data can move and that real gains in this area can only be achieved through gains in efficiency -- in other words, the elimination (as much as possible) of latency.
For ethernet, speed really is about latency. Ethernet switch latency is defined as the time it takes for a switch to forward a packet from its ingress port to its egress port. The lower the latency, the faster the device can transmit packets to its final destination. Also important within this ‘need for speed’ is avoiding packet loss. The magic is in within the balancing act: speed and accuracy that challenge our understanding of traditional physics.
Cisco’s latest entrant to the world of high speed trading brings us the Nexus 3548. A slim 48 port line rate switch with latency as low as 190 nanoseconds. It includes a Warp switch port analyzer (SPAN) feature that facilitates the efficient delivery of stock market data to financial trading servers in as littles as 50 nanoseconds and multiple other tweaks we uncover in this 1 hour deep dive into the fastest switch on the market. The first new member of the 2nd generation Nexus 3000 family. (We featured the first generation Nexus 3000 series in April 2011)
This is a great show -- it moves fast!
- Robb & Jimmy Ray with Keys to the Show
- Berna Devrim introduces us to Cisco Algo Boost and the Nexus 3548
- Will Ochandarena gives us a hardware show and tell
- Jacob Rapp walks us through a few live simulations
- Chih-Tsung, ASIC designer walks us through the custom silicon