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CiscoGeeks Survey: Network Operators Indicate Borderless Network Priorities

When it comes to your network, what’s most important to you? It seems like such a simple question. And yet, ask 50 different network operators and you can be guaranteed to get a rather wide range of responses. That’s what we did recently on the CiscoGeeks twitter feed.

Now granted, the sample size is small. (We actually ended up with 51 respondents.) And it is certainly a biased set of respondents – CiscoGeeks twitter followers. The results nonetheless are interesting, especially, given that the profile of the CiscoGeeks follower is likely to be a person who operates a Cisco network and is also just as likely to possess a solid technical background and curious nature with respect to networks and networking technology. After all, they are following a twitter feed called CiscoGeeks.

And now for the results…

Question:  When it comes to your network, what’s most important to you?

Simplify network deployments and operations………            65%            (33 Votes)

Protect the network from unauthorized access……..            41%            (21)

Better performance and flexibility for mobile users…            31%            (16)

Business innovation……………………………………            31%            (16)

Better use of security policies…………………………            25%            (13)

High-quality video experience for users……………..            12%             (6)

Control energy costs……………………………………            10%            (5)

Other:

    Vendor interoperability………………………………              2%            (1)

     Reliability……………………………………………..              2%            (1)

     Price…………………………………………………..              2%            (1)

Note: Respondents were allowed to select more than one answer.

Any surprises here for you?

For me, some answers match expectations. For example, the top two – Simplify and Secure – point to the ongoing challenge of operating and protecting the network in this connected age. Here, the network is ever-changing and must always be on-guard. What is Cisco doing on these fronts? Well, to name just a few… Multiservice devices reduce overall network complexity. Cisco IOS provides a consistent set of management interfaces and intelligent services across the network infrastructure. And key features such as SmartPorts, AutoQoS, Embedded Event Manager, TrustSec, and AnyConnect take direct aim at operational complexity and risk mitigation.

Then again, some answers point to rising business expectations of the network. Here, the strong support for Mobility and Innovation are very encouraging. Our networks are stepping forward to accommodate the new on-the-move user. And even better, the network is moving from being a basic connection utility to a high-impact business system – one that promotes rather than stifles business innovation. What is Cisco doing on these fronts? Again, to name just a few… Leading RF management capabilities, 802.11n systems and migration services, VideoStream technology, and integrated wired/wireless network solutions enable Cisco networks to readily and securely meet rising mobility demands. As for innovation, Cisco spends over $5B annually on network innovation. Innovation in the network translates to innovation in business. More scalable and flexible platforms, service-rich software, managed and cloud services… We want the network to be ready for anything and anyone.

And what about the lower-scoring answers – Video and Energy? Actually, the fact that these garnered “most important” votes is noteworthy. There is no question that the use of video is on the rise in business. Is it a top application for any one company or any one network? Well, not likely given that such entrenched business applications as ERP, CRM, and Sales Automation still get top billing in IT portfolios. But video is coming. Its potential impact on business processes (e.g., remote video collaboration) and cost and environmental savings (e.g., reduced travel) is too great to deny much-needed attention moving forward. Here at Cisco, we’re already prepared for heightened video demands on the network. Across the infrastructure, medianet systems and services optimize video delivery. For the end user, Cisco provides a wide range of video applications (Cisco TelePresence, WebEx) and services (WAAS) designed to enhance the video experience.

On the Energy side, Cisco EnergyWise is the only network-based energy management system available in the industry. And yet, 10% of respondents still assigned this as “most important.” It would seem that energy consumption and costs are growing to be a high priority not just for facilities managers, but also network managers. (Remember, these are CiscoGeeks.) Cisco’s continuing build-out of EnergyWise capabilities (e.g., the recently announced Orchestrator console and PC client) and partnerships (lighting and HVAC energy control systems) will allow network managers to affect real change in their company’s environmental stance and energy bill.

Where do you stand with respect to the above “most important” network priorities? Or is there something even more important to you and your network? Let us know. We are paying close attention.

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