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Cisco Has a Cool New Network Management Solution – Really?

I recently staffed the Cisco booth at Interop, Las Vegas where we introduced Cisco Prime for Enterprise, a new network management strategy and product portfolio.  I had buttons made that said “Ask Me About Cisco Prime for Enterprise” to help facilitate questions and because I’m a tech marketing geek who likes to wear buttons.

Interop was my first tradeshow since I transitioned to Cisco network management from the Cisco wireless/mobility team where I recently led WLAN management marketing.  I’ve always believed in the value of network management – especially when it’s done right.  As I talked with Interop attendees, two questions kept repeating:

  • What is Cisco Prime for Enterprise?
  • Are you sure Cisco has an innovative network management solution – Really?  As of when?

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IPv6 Automatic Addressing

Can anyone remember a time before DHCP?

In those dark days, some poor IT technician maintained a document mapping specific IP addresses to individual devices.  People had to ensure that they connected a new device to the correct subnet cable and that they entered address parameters carefully since a simple typographical error could knock an important server offline.  While protocols like BOOTP emerged to help provision devices, the manual tedium of mapping users to fixed IP addresses remained.

It was this environment that inspired the IPv6 Stateless Address AutoConfiguration (SLAAC) protocol.  The size of the IPv6 address space made it possible for a device to autonomously create a unique address once it learned the local router’s IPv6 prefix.  No requests, no central server, and no manual management.  Any IPv6 device dropped on an active IPv6 network could start communicating right away.

IPv4 users took a different path to “plug and play” networking.  BOOTP evolved into DHCP, where one-to-one mapping gave way to a system in which a server could dynamically hand out time-limited IPv4 address “leases” to devices on a subnet without any user intervention.  In addition, DHCP could administrative parameters (options) to these devices.  Finally, the server provided centralized tracking and administrative control over IP address assignment. Read More »


On The Edge: Innovations that Break Down Borders

The best way to predict the future is to create it.”Peter Drucker

In 1989, a couple of amazing changes occurred that are still affecting our world today. The Berlin Wall fell, and a little company called Cisco developed the Border Gateway Protocol so routers could eventually connect the entire world. These developments still reverberate through our lives as outdated social, political, and economic borders continue to break down, and we enjoy more freedom than ever to connect and interact with virtually anyone.

While the public debate on the abstract value of these freedoms continues, most private organizations see very concrete value in giving their employees, partners, and customers the ability to connect globally using any type of device or media. And they’re investing accordingly.

For example, more than half of all companies surveyed* have already spent some of their precious I.T. budgets deploying video or collaborative applications, allowing personal devices for work use, or adopting software as a service models. Of course, these new innovations also require more bandwidth and more security; but leading organizations are minimizing additional costs and earning ROI sooner by integrating these new technologies directly into their routing infrastructure, which in turn can actually reduce overall traffic loads and complexity.

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EX90s rock InteropNet help desk

Ran into Dave Mattlin here at Interop, and he was really enthusiastic about how the EX90s I had mentioned in my previous post are being used here. Here’s what Dave had to say:

EX90 at the InteropNet Help Desk

Cisco EX90 at the InteropNet Help Desk

“Cisco EX90 is more than just a sexy desktop. When you are setting up a network, everyone wants to speak with an expert. But that is usually someone far away. This is the case at Interop 2011 in Las Vegas. Setting up  Interop is a long process with many hurdles, one of them being access to IT/Technical support quickly. At shows like this one a show management company has a few people they can reach out to in order to get network links up and working. At Interop the Network is HUGE, technical and very complex so specialized support has to be in place.  So how does someone setting up for the show get the expertise they need, when they need it?  Easy, by using an EX90 which provides real time face to face communications for quick resolutions.

Cisco has placed several EX90’s around the show floor which provide real time access to a qualified help desk to assist companies with their technical questions and needs. This has proven to be very successful and relieved exhibitor services  from the daunting task of understanding the very complex show network.

I had an opportunity speak with the show management. They are very impressed with the technology and say that having the EX90’s actually improved their customer service.  They did not have to send their customers away to get technical help. Instead, they could just call up the help desk and get their questions answered immediately. Many of the show vendors who used these systems reported that the enjoyed  the video clarity and easy to use interface.”

Thanks Dave, for that story. And I would be remiss if I did not mention that the video clarity is aided by the Cisco Medianet technology we have deployed on the Cisco Catalyst switches we have deployed on the show floor and in the core.

IPv6 Testing Sites and Tools

So, World IPv6 Day is just under a month away.  You already have IPv6 connectivity, right?  How do you know that everything will work correctly when the big day arrives?  You will need to do some testing.

A number of enthusiastic engineers across the world have set up public IPv6 sites that you can use to perform all manner of tests.  I would like to tell you about some of my personal favorites, and invite you to tell me about your own.  Please note that Cisco manages none of the tools mentioned here, and as such cannot offer any assurances about their suitability for use on your network, so insert your own dire sounding legal disclaimers here before continuing.

Can You Connect?

For a quick “Am I Ready?” test, http:/ provides a simple Yes-or-No assessment of your web browser’s ability to access IPv6 enabled sites on World IPv6 Day.  Here is my attempt to connect with an impaired IPv6 tunnel:

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