Cisco IT’s global WAN has a two-tiered architecture. Tier 1 is a DWDM/SONET/SDH-based global backbone that connects 22 Cisco facilities and WAN aggregation hubs in 11 countries. Tier 2 regional WANs connect at the hub sites. The regional WANs are built based on the most appropriate technology for the region, including MPLS VPN in several locations. In North America the regional WAN is currently a TDM-based private-line network with eight WAN aggregation hubs in the United States and one in Canada which we recently evaluated for possible migration to MPLS VPN.
Our evaluation highlighted the fact that MPLS VPN service offerings and cost models vary from region to region across the globe. Conditions that make MPLS VPN the WAN technology of choice in one part of the world do not necessarily apply elsewhere. In 2001, when we reviewed our SONET/ATM/Frame Relay/TDM-based WAN in Europe, we found that a service-provider-based MPLS VPN network solution was the best option for us. We were able to increase our WAN bandwidth by more than a factor of four for about the same cost. We were also able to meet our requirements for QoS for real-time voice and video applications, and native multicast needed for streaming Cisco TV broadcast of companywide and other meetings. (We support seven QoS classes, as described in Cisco IT case studies on QoS and Medianet.)
The meteoric rise and popularity of Web 2.0 tools and technologies presents several business and technical challenges for corporate IT. Before the benefits of Web 2.0 can be fully realized in the enterprise, IT needs to accept and embrace them. Following are what I see as the four overarching IT challenges from a business perspective.
In early 2009, I was asked to form a virtual, global team within Cisco IT to figure out how we could reduce international long distance calling expenses at Cisco. As a result of adding 28 TEHO routes we were able to avoid future PSTN costs of approximately $4 million per year.
At a global company like Cisco a lot of our meetings are held as conference calls with people all over the world. These meetings can last an hour or more, so a company phone is useful especially after hours or when you’re traveling. For me, that’s when a softphone on my laptop is the best solution. It uses the power of the corporate network to make low-cost business calls (and they’re free to me). Many people at Cisco use Cisco IP Communicator, which is a great softphone. My preference is Cisco Unified Personal Communicator because it combines the softphone with presence information, instant messaging, and very recently a new feature called “click-to-conference” WebEx.
At Cisco Live 2010 in Barcelona last month, Cisco IT’s Rich Gore spoke with Donald De Witte of the Cisco Data Center Networks blog about our production data center in Richardson, Texas. As Rich noted, the technologies and IT architecture inside the Richardson data center (normally closed to the public) are shared in the Cisco IT Data Center Experience, an interactive virtual tour. If you haven’t seen the virtual data center tour, be sure to check it out.