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Software Defined Wide Area Network Orchestration: Take Control of your Network

The WAN: Then and Now

The Wide Area Network (WAN) has been at the foundation of enterprise networks for decades: responsible Untitledfor connecting people, applications and data across a large number of locations.  Traditionally, the WAN was relatively static and a “set it and forget it” configuration methodology was acceptable and effective. Management tools were simple and straightforward, yet limited. As an example, while studying for my Routing and Switching CCIE lab exam 15 years ago, I had to become proficient in command line interface, node-by-node configuration and WAN troubleshooting.  In order to ensure timely completion of the exam, the use of notepad (scripts) and CLI shortcuts was imperative.

15 years later, many of us still manage our WAN’s in the same way: using text files, simple automation tools and scripting engines on a node-by-node basis.  While this is reasonably effective on a small-scale network, similar to Metcalfe’s Law, the complexity of the network is equal to the number of nodes on the network, squared.

Today, application, cloud, security and other imperatives require the WAN to be dynamic and flexible to meet business needs.  The agility and frequency of change the WAN requires is increasing exponentially.  In addition, the price/performance of broadband relative to private lines (MPLS/Frame Relay) and the availability of cellular (3G/4G/LTE) has encouraged the adoption of hybrid architectures reducing cost, but increasing complexity.  The business is asking IT to do more with less, leverage existing hardware to contain costs, support past and future applications, and be more agile. In order to keep up with these transitions and business requirements, the enterprise needs better tools.  Read More »

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Bringing Software-Defined Networking to the WAN

Today, I am pleased to announce that we will be showcasing the  Cisco Intelligent WAN (IWAN) Application for the APIC-EM controller with early adopter customers at Cisco Live San Diego next week. For those of you familiar with Cisco’s SDN solutions, the APIC-EM builds on Cisco’s ACI architecture to extend Software Defined Networking from the Data Center to the WAN and Access areas of your network.

Before diving into the IWAN App, you might be wondering what is “Software Defined Networking for the WAN” or “SD-WAN” is. The simple answer is that the same benefits that SDN brings to the Data Center can be applied to the Wide Area Network. SDN for the WAN is all about moving from feature by feature configuration to policy and intent driven management. Benefits achieved include reduced costs to operate the WAN and optimize bandwidth. It’s about improving your application experience, enabling digital experiences in your remote branches, and enabling you to move to cloud based applications without giving up on application performance. Finally, it’s about WAN resiliency. Crucially, you must achieve all of this while maintaining end-to-end security and this requires enhancing security capabilities.

Sounds like a lot? It is, and that’s why we (and most of the industry) are so excited about the changes happening in the WAN. To boil it down, as I talk to customers about evolving their WAN architecture to meet the growing bandwidth and performance demands generated by mobile devices, digital stores, cloud based applications, and IoT sensors – to name a few – customers are focused on a short list of business outcomes:

  • Greater business agility with faster application delivery
  • Reducing costs with simplified operations and management
  • Improving business continuity with high availability and resiliency

If these business outcomes sound familiar it is because we are addressing them today with our Intelligent WAN Solution (IWAN) and have been talking about them for the past few years. What’s unique about Cisco is that we have built IWAN to be integrated with our industry leading ISR and ASR 1000 routers while many others have chosen to go with a pure overlay. By combining the strengths of IOS XE software with rock solid hardware to provide detailed visibility across all layers of the network, the Cisco IWAN solution has a much more intimate understanding of network conditions and can make better and faster decisions about how to direct traffic over the WAN. IWAN also retains all of the inherent resiliency, security, and self-healing aspects that routing protocols were developed to provide. Combine this with Cisco’s industry-leading security portfolio as well as our end-to-end vision for policy based infrastructure (ACI) and we have a solution is pretty hard to beat. Read More »

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Cisco Prime Infrastructure WorkFlows for Converged Access – Single Switch Branch Network WorkFlow

Cisco Prime WorkFlows for Converged Access are designed to help simplify the deployment of Converged Access architecture quickly and error free. There are 3 WorkFlows  – Small network, Large network and Centralized network deployment.

The focus of this document is deployment of small branch offices using the Single-Switch Small Branch Deployment Model.

Single Switch Branch Overview

The small-size remote branch office or retail store may consist of a single or a stack of Ethernet switches to provide network connectivity to the wired and wireless users. Such small networks can converge the Ethernet switching with next-generation wireless capability on the same Catalyst switch.

For such network designs, the switch can integrate WLC Mobility Controller (MC) and Mobility Agent (MA) functions without requiring any additional Converged Access elements, such as Switch-Peer-Group (SPG) in the network. These networks may need Guest wireless services, as well as common security and network access policy enforcement across all branch offices.

The network administrator can use Cisco Prime Infrastructure IOS-XE Controller Small Network Template to deploy Converged Access. Below figure illustrates reference network design and deployment plan for single switch small branch office network.

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The WorkFlow helps deploy the below features. With just a few clicks you can deploy multiple branch networks with all the wired / wireless best practices for Converged Access. Read More »

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Cisco Intelligent WAN Delivers on SD-WAN Business Requirements

I was excited to attend the Open Networking User Group Conference last week at Columbia University in New York. The Open Networking User Group is a community of IT business leaders who exchange ideas and best practices for implementing Open Networking and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) designs. One of the ONUG working groups is the SD-WAN Working Group which was my main interest for attending this event. The SD-WAN working has determined a set of 10 business requirements (based on user-developed use cases) that Enterprises should consider when evaluating SD-WAN solutions:

Read More »

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Learn How to Easily Consume Cisco Solutions – Cisco ONE Software Webinar

We launched Cisco ONE Software to give our customers a more valuable and flexible way to purchase and consume Cisco infrastructure software.

Since the launch, more than 300 customers have switched to this more valuable and flexible model. If you’re not one of these customers – and you are still asking, “What is Cisco ONE Software?” or “What does it mean for me?” – don’t worry. On Tuesday, May 19 we’ll be holding a web event to get you up to speed. We’ll explain what Cisco ONE Software is and how you can use it to deploy solutions for the Local Access, WAN and Data Center domains.

You can register for the event here. Or, if you’d like to be entertained first, here’s a video you can watch – click on it to access the event registration page.

Be sure to also check out this informative white paper that has just been released by analyst firm IDC. We asked IDC to evaluate our overall software strategy, and Cisco ONE Software in particular. Read More »

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