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Service Capacity Planning at Cisco

Capacity planning is getting far more complicated as network services get more complex, and it requires understanding each service as a whole, cutting across several traditional IT services like network and data center capacity planning.  Here’s how Cisco IT is starting to address these new service-based capacity issues, mainly focusing on Network and Voice Capacity Management

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Capacity Planning at Cisco

 Capacity planning depends on accurate measurement; but what you do with the measurements depends on the service, the region, and where your business is going.  Here’s how we do it, and what we expect to be facing in the future.

 Measuring WAN circuit capacity depends on the circuit design at each branch office.   Standard Cisco architecture for any WAN connection is a primary and a secondary WAN circuit.  For most sites, where available and cost effective, the two circuits are the same size and we load balance across the two.  Sometimes however, to reduce costs we provide a smaller backup circuit, and assume that some of the traffic will not be served during the short time of a primary WAN link outage (video conferencing may stop, voice may go out the voice gateway, etc.).  Capacity planning gets done on the primary circuit.

 There are not many tools available for doing capacity planning, and not much automation that has grown up around that process.   Mostly, we use 3 different homegrown reports for this.  The first of these reports remain the same from our earlier capacity-planning days; the second helps us deal with transient peak traffic; and the third helps us look at service levels.

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Unified Communications Server Architecture: Location Matters

Cisco has consolidated our unified communications server architecture twice since we first transitioned from PBX systems. Initially, we deployed Cisco Unified Communications Managers in all 256 global Cisco offices.

The first big shift came when we moved to a centralized Unified Communications architecture, deploying 15 Cisco Unified Communications Manager clusters worldwide, which support more than 130,000 hardware phones and 70,000 software phones. The centralized clusters deliver voice services to other Cisco offices over the Cisco global WAN.

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Using Synthetic Transactions for End User Experience Metrics

One of the most important aspects of voice service management is the assurance of user satisfaction.  In Cisco IT, we utilize Unified Operations Manager, a Cisco product, to measure and report on End User Experience Metrics.  Specifically, we utilize UOM’s synthetic transaction capability to replicate user experience by making periodic test calls and off hook tests.  This provides statistics of service availability for basic dial tone as well as supporting applications like Unified Messaging. 

The synthetic tests serve to replicate user activity (receiving a dial tone, making end-to-end phone calls, leaving voice mail, and creating/joining conference calls). These tests can verify the functional availability of the supporting infrastructure and validate different configuration aspects such as route patterns, route lists, inter-cluster trunks, and gateway dial peers. 

What follows is how we use thse synthetic tests at Cisco, to measure the availability and quality of our voice network.

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Developing Integrations for Business Applications with Cisco UAE

How often does a business process in your organization come to a stop because something is waiting for an approval? One example of how we have improved a Cisco business process is by integrating applications with unified communications technologies through the Cisco Unified Application Environment.

This Environment helps us to easily write integrations from our enterprise applications into Cisco Unified Communications by using a library of application modules. The modules cover a variety of functions such as the click-to-call links in applications or on web pages, the ability to see a colleague’s presence information, and one-click conferencing

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