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Project Squared Update: Secure Media

The cloud is software in motion.

Our recently announced Cisco Collaboration Cloud did not stop moving once we launched it on November 17. We’ve been pushing code into the cloud multiple times per day and have release several client updates since we launched. The great thing about this model is that we can be delivering new features constantly without waiting for a giant release. This also means that, when a feature doesn’t get done by a particular date, it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t need to wait for a huge release 6-12 months later. It might come just a few weeks later.

This is exactly what has happened with an important security feature which we didn’t quite finish in time for Collaboration Summit – secure media (also known as Secure RTP or SRTP). The version of the application that we launched on November 17 did not utilize secure media in all clients. Given our focus on security this was obviously something we weren’t happy about. But, we knew that it was almost done and we would push it soon enough.

I’m pleased to report that we have indeed pushed secure media. All of our Project Squared clients – the Mac, Android, IOS and web clients send all media in encrypted form to our media servers. The media is secured using a flavor of SRTP known as DTLS-SRTP, which performs the key exchange inline with the media itself.  SRTP is on by default and cannot be disabled. This is consistent with our general approach to security – to make it always there but invisible to end users. Neither our users nor our admins of the collaboration cloud need to do anything to make sure media is secure. It just is.

Of course – we’re not done yet! There is still a healthy backlog of features, including many more great security improvements, that we’re working on. Stay tuned, more stuff is  coming. That’s because the cloud is software in motion.

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ACI for Splunk Enterprise: Enabling comprehensive application health

On January 13th, 2015, Cisco will celebrate the 1-year anniversary of its launch of Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), a ground breaking SDN architecture.  It will include a public webcast with the participation of early ACI adopters and our ecosystems partners.  One of these inaugural partners was Splunk,  the Operational Intelligence company for all types of IT organizations.  At the webcast, Splunk and other partners will describe  a range of new solutions with ACI, that dramatically simplify Data Center operations. Here is a preview of Splunk’s solution.

A large portion of the data center operational effort is consumed in managing application health.  This includes:

  • Ensuring the end-user experience for distributed users with different types of performance needs
  • Discovering the physical and virtual resources associated with applications and the user experience
  • Detailed monitoring of resources and events in the infrastructure that affect application performance

These activities have become more complex as applications have become distributed, interconnected or cloud based because they cause applications to move, scale and evolve rapidly.

Splunk Enterprise can monitor and analyze millions of infrastructure events through logs and agents, in real-time. This can provide rapid visibility and isolation of infrastructure that affect application performance. Cisco has been collaborating with Splunk to combine the application visibility of Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure with operational analytics of Splunk Enterprise. The result is “Cisco ACI for Splunk Enterprise” a highly scalable application that is orderable immediately at Splunk.com.

ACI and Splunk have enabled a comprehensive view of application health with the ability to monitor the entire end-to-end environment in real time and proactively prevent issues from impacting end users.

ACI provides visibility to application health from the network perspective by tracking all network dependencies and events that impact application performance and security. Splunk complements Cisco ACI by bringing actionable intelligence across the entire data center infrastructure including storage, compute, virtualization endpoints, as well as application tiers and components provided by ACI. Splunk’s analytical and visualization tools provide real-time insights to data center teams to optimize performance and ensure security policies in a highly dynamic environment.

How does it work

Cisco ACI exposes a wealth of networking data previously inaccessible to Splunk. The Cisco ACI app for Splunk Enterprise gathers data from APIC (Application Policy Infrastructure Controller) including APIC network events, health scores and inventory of logical constructs (e.g. tenants, application profiles, end point groups) and physical constructs ( e.g spines, leafs, VMs).

SplunkACI_CentralizedApplicationHeath

This data is used to:

  1. Reduce resolution time with accelerated root-cause analysis
  • Splunk enables users to reduce the mean time to investigate/resolve problems up to 70%
  • Centralized management of operational health of ACI environment & underlying entities in real-time
  • Detect issues or anomalies in performance or response times and proactively resolve
  • For multiple tenants, quickly navigate to the source of problems using flexible per-role views, including 1) Help Desk view, 2) Tenant View and 3) Fabric view
  1. Provide Central Proactive Monitoring of Cisco ACI
  • Get real-time proactive notification of network traffic and device faults with location, affected objects.
  • Track trends and anticipate application impact
  1. Operational Analytics across the entire virtual and physical infrastructure
  • Optimize network capacity and prevent service deterioration with detailed visibility into fabric path degradation.
  • Meet compliance/security with user analytics, including authentication tracking reports.
  • Correlate data from Cisco ACI with data from storage resources, operating systems, applications, security devices, endpoint and more for enterprise-wide visibility.
  • Trace and monitor transactions through all tiers of a distributed application architecture
  • Gives application managers a perspective on the underlying Cisco ACI infrastructure’s effect on applications without being directly involved in ACI Ops.
  • Monitor key operational metrics such as end-to-end response times to ensure SLAs met.

As an example, a Fortune 100 company is using Splunk with ACI:

  • for operational visibility for their ACI cluster with ability to quickly identify faults and troublesome tenants and determine corrective action.
  • to provide centralized visibility as ACI expands across multiple data centers and for proactive monitoring to establish baselines and triggered alerts when key thresholds exceeded.

This approach to Application Health is part of the broader discipline of Application Performance Management (APM). According to Gartner, “By 2018, 60% of APM deployments will use and integrate data extracted directly from log  files alongside wire data and agent-derived data as a foundation for reporting, prediction, and analysis, up from less than 5% today.”  With our collaboration, ACI for Splunk Enterprise provides important new capabilities for  Application Performance Management.

Learn more about Cisco ACI for Splunk Enterprise here.  And register for Cisco’s webcast on January 13th.

 

 

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Fast IT: Unleashing Value at Stake

I often joke with our customers and ask, “How many of you woke up this morning saying, ‘If I could only buy software defined networking (SDN) today, then my day would be complete.’”  My point in asking this is to underscore that it’s not about the technology itself, but it’s about the benefits -- or the outcomes – that this solution achieves which is what our customers want.

There’s no question that there’s a massive amount of market disruption occurring. Whether it’s economic shifts around the world, technology transitions we see with mobile, cloud, big data, analytics, security, SDN and the Internet of Everything (IoE), or the disruption of business models across every industry, our customers are facing a great deal of complexity coming at them fast – and all at the same time.

Whereas IT was once thought of as a necessary evil, customers I speak with today understand that technology will differentiate and transform their businesses amidst all of this complexity. CEOs understand that technology, at a minimum, must be a strategic enabler for their business, and ideally a strategic differentiator.  They realize if they do not stay ahead, a competitor can – and will – disrupt them.

This leads to an incredible amount of pressure on CIOs, who are being asked to make IT decisions faster than ever. More than 70 percent of IT budget is spent keeping existing systems running, with 50 percent of IT budgets spent on labor alone. So how can they create more time to be both strategic partners and simultaneously play Chief Innovation Officer for their CEO and organization?

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Partner Voices: Back to the Future. Lifecycle Management in 2014.

December 18, 2014 at 7:30 am PST

Oftentimes when putting together the Cisco Partner Voices blogs, it’s easier to just back off and let the partner tell their own story. With this week’s entry from ePlus, I did just that, asking Mike Trojecki, senior director, Cisco National Practice and Emerging Technologies, ePlus to speak about lifecycle management in 2014. Here is what Mike had to say:

The year was 1985.  Ronald Reagan was President of the United States, Wham! topped the charts with Careless Whisper, and Marty McFly and Doc Brown were rewriting history in one of the best movies of the 80’s. In this same era, the term “lifecycle management” made its debut by American Motor Corporation.

If you are like most organizations that I speak with, you are mired in spreadsheets and multitudes of network management tools—fighting fires so often that you can’t spend the time needed to align technology with your lines of business. The truth is that Wood, Hewlin and Lah were correct in Consumption Economics: The New Rules of Tech when they stated that there is a growing gap between what manufacturers, systems integrators and value added resellers are trying to sell you, and what can possibly be adopted and deployed. This leaves you in the unenviable position of deploying products without realizing all of the features that were supposed to provide ROI (you know, in Back to the Future speak, that would get your businesses’ flux capacitor up to 1.21 gigawatts and cruising along at 88 MPH). Read More »

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Cisco Connects Data and Analytics

Billions of devices are changing how organizations compete and disrupting traditional data management and analytics.

This Internet of Everything world presents an exciting new opportunity to discover and take advantage of market, customer, and operational insights. And by making sense of captured data quickly, organizations can take action at that point, in that moment, in ways that differentiate versus competitors and drive significant new business value.   TimeWarnerCable’s intelligent home initiative is one example.

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 4.51.42 PM

But all this data is massive, messy, and everywhere, spanning many sources – cloud, data warehouses, devices – and formats – video, voice, text, and images.  To address this challenge, new solutions beyond traditional data warehousing and even big data are required.

Cisco Enters the Data and Analytics Market

When Cisco acquired data virtualization market leader Composite Software in mid 2013, Cisco signaled a clear intent to begin connecting this data via intelligent networking the same way it connected LANs; the Internet; voice and video over IP; and more in it’s 30 year history.

And with our December 11, 2014, Connected Analytics Portfolio announcement, Cisco adds a rich suite of analytics solutions that help organizations capture insights that create new opportunities, simplify business operations, enhance the customer experience, and resolve potential threats.

New Methods for the New Challenges

Today’s analytic solutions need to advance beyond traditional methods that move data to a warehouse or data lake before commencing analysis.  Cisco’s Connected Analytics Portfolio provides analytics with immediate access to data, as well as brings analytics to the data – no matter where the data resides on the network.

Further, Cisco is uniquely qualified to implement analytics at the point of data, because so much of the data worldwide resides on our networks, providing the ideal platform for embedded analytics.  Along with 30 years of networking experience, Cisco now has the data and analytics tools, software, and services to help our customers instantly capture, analyze, and interpret critical data out to the network edge.

 

Learn More

Visit our Data and Analytics website to learn more.

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Follow us @CiscoDataVirt and @CiscoAnalytics.

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