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3 Steps to WAN Management Nirvana

A Day in Life of a Network Admin

A Day in Life of a Network Administrator

“Fire drills. Box-by-box management. Sometimes, it’s about searching for a needle in a haystack,” says Nick[1], a network administrator, as he summarizes his typical workday over our coffee break. “I’m perpetually behind,” he adds. After a few sips, Nick starts to pour out his laundry list of frustration. (And oh boy, it’s an ugly list.)

  • Meetings after meetings. It never ends.
  • After meetings, then comes the fire fighting: tool malfunction, virus, security breach, degrading user experience, the list goes on.
  • On a good day, more than half of it is spent on configuring tools or provisioning new apps.
  • On a bad day, on top of fire drills, hours are spent justifying operational simplicity and ROI to management in order to maintain an ever-decreasing IT budget.

“It would be nice,” Nick interjects, “if I could easily manage the network like that (snapping his fingers) so I have more time on strategic stuff – like enabling business innovation and driving more value for my stakeholders (his employees and customers).”

What if there was such a way?  Read More »

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Branch Direct Internet Access: is your branch office secure?

With the recent launch of FirePower Threat Defense on Cisco 4000 Series Integrated Services Routers, I would like to spend some time talking about enterprise branch security and what are the requirements to keep in mind to secure your branch office. Let’s start out by examining your branch environment.

What’s happening at the branch today?

Cloud is redefining application delivery. Mobility is redefining network architecture. Next generation applications like Ultra High Definition videos, Web, and SaaS applications put increased pressure on bandwidth availability.

Organizations may be considering Direct Internet Access (DIA) at the branch to leverage local internet path for public cloud and internet access. Leveraging the local internet path at the branch reduces IT spending (freeing up costly WAN bandwidth for mission critical applications) and ensures better application experience, for example for applications hosted in the public cloud (less latency)  but it may come with a cost since now the branch may be exposed to security threats. Read More »

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IT Paradox: Managing More Complex Networks with Limited Resources

I speak with Cisco customers regularly. The topic of the Internet of Everything (IoE) comes up often.  Put simply, their concerns can be summed up in a single question: How can I prepare for the network of tomorrow when it’s difficult to keep pace with managing the fast-moving complexity of my network today?

IoT: So Many Vulnerabilities. So Little Time and Resources. So Much at Stake.

Research firm IDC predicts there will be over 28 billion connected devices installed by 2020, while fellow analyst Gartner forecasts that 4.9 billion connected things will be in use in 2015, up 30 percent from 2014, and will reach 25 billion by 2020.

An example of one industry that’s moving to meet this opportunity is retailing. Like me, I’m sure you’ve noticed the change in your shopping experience — whether it’s contextual matching of products to your personal profile or in-store product or pricing comparisons using your mobile device.

But moving into the revolutionary digital retail environment enabled by the Internet of Things doesn’t come without risk. New connectedness brings new security threats. For the typical network administrator a major security issue like the Heartbleed bug can quickly turn into a bad case of heartburn. What’s the nature of the vulnerability? What devices are impacted? How do I respond? When you combine these questions with the day to day demands of directly supporting end-users, answering technical questions, resolving network issues, writing scripts, creating reports, monitoring systems and managing version controls, it’s not surprising that a network operations team can be overwhelmed. And that’s before the growing connectivity fueled by the Internet of Things.  Read More »

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How to Make the Invisible Visible: An Automated Answer for Network Transparency

Let’s face it. Danger lurks inside every enterprise network, and when it hits, addressing the crisis with manual processes that are inefficient and error-prone can take days – or even weeks – to resolve. If you’ve ever been in a situation like this, minutes can seem like hours. You’re aware that not only is fast problem resolution critical, but that the displaced effort and incremental time incurred by you or your staff in resolving the issue is detrimental as well. Crisis preparation can help. But fire drills often don’t compare to the real thing. To avoid constantly reacting to problems, many enterprises are harnessing automation to gain greater visibility into their network infrastructure to proactively manage and defeat danger before it occurs.

What you don’t know can hurt you

Read More »

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#CiscoChat: Benefits of Software-Defined WAN Solutions

Depending on the publications you favor or industry news sites you frequent, Software Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WANs) are either the next best thing on the network horizon, or a tech innovation that still needs to be met with just a hint of skepticism. Regardless of your stance, the question on most people’s mind is can this emerging technology deliver the benefits it promises?

Answering this question is critical.  Today’s WANs are becoming increasingly complex and in turn, difficult to manage.  And SD-WANs are garnering more headlines as organizations begin to turn to them for maximizing bandwidth without completely overhauling their networks. But just like any tech advancement, CIOs are cautious, still wondering if SD-WANs are indeed  ready for “prime time” and can be implemented without being difficult to manage and more importantly, not increasing the bottom line.

Many organizations are struggling to find their sweet spot when it comes to rapidly responding to new business opportunities, optimizing user experiences and controlling costs. This has become even more of a challenge with the proliferation of mobile devices, wide-spread adoption of cloud-based services and increasing use of high-bandwidth applications. Read More »

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