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Architecting Borderless Networks with a Systems Approach

Cisco’s Borderless Networks initiative comes at a time when network technology is more important than ever before in driving growth and ROI for businesses. Connecting anyone, at any time, anywhere in the world, and improving your ability to effectively deliver critical applications and services, requires a paradigm shift away from a “plumbing” view of the network. The network doesn’t just pump data from one place to another. In a time increasingly defined by video communication, wireless connectivity and cloud computing, having a strong network provides real strategic business value everyday. The same is true for the fundamental core of the network (i.e. routing and switching) as it is for newer extensions that the core supports, such as virtualization and video conferencing.

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Networking Standards: A Vendor Litmus Test for Open Systems

Industry standards and open systems deliver a wealth of advantages to all network operators — global enterprises, government agencies small and medium-sized businesses, service providers, and even homeowners. Holding technology vendors to a high standard (Pardon the pun.) with respect to developing, implementing, certifying, and delivering open and standardized solutions is a key success factor for network operators looking to maximize the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of their networks.

When examining the role of technology vendors within the standards process, it is important to understand that many levels of commitment and participation are possible. After all, most vendors will state they are firmly committed to industry standards and open systems. As proof of this commitment, every vendor will point to their respective product specifications for the always-present list of supported standards. While these lists provide a good starting point in determining how committed vendors are to delivering standardized solutions, they are just that, a start. In essence, these compliance specifications serve as the initial (and lowest) setting for the “open standards” bar. The true standards bearers are prepared and have proven to jump over a much higher bar.

So how does one judge the level of commitment of a vendor to industry standards and open systems?

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Overcoming Borders and Improving the Network

A few weeks ago Cisco launched the ISR G2 and introduced the concept of “Borderless Networks.” Borderless Networks summarizes an architecture, or better yet – an implementation of the network that allows you to work the way you want anytime, anywhere, using any device, to connect to any resource.  A Borderless Branch, for instance, would allow remote offices and workers to connect to the network without having to think about it, knowing all their transactions are secure and expecting a quality experience every time they connect. 

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Two Problems – One Easy, One Hard

In my never-ending quest to keep up with the latest technology news, I have been reading about the Cisco SmartGrid effort.  SmartGrid is really – well – smart, because it attacks the problem of the world’s rapidly declining supply of fossil fuels from two different directions. It looks not only at the consumption of energy (that’s you and me, folks), but at the efficiencies that can be found in the production and transmission of energy as well.

Now, there is a hidden technical problem in the SmartGrid. Luckily, it is one that is easily solved. Have you spotted it?

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Why Network People Worry About the Future

I worry about the future.  Newspapers carry stories about a tough economy, rough job market, and a future that is difficult.  Things are changing and change creates worry.

Abner Germanow, a technology analyst at IDC, is worried about the future of the network.  He writes about change in the network and the worries we need to address to build networks that are ready for the future.  His ideas are captured in a free white paper called “Demonstrating the Value of a Foundation Network”.

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