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Secrets to Ensuring Application Performance at the Branch

Ensuring application experience at the branch is a daunting task. IT must look beyond traditional WAN challenges (like bandwidth, transport type, and speed) to applications experience. As time-to-market becomes a pillar of enterprise’s competitive advantages, application experience is key to ensuring fast service and high customer satisfaction.

In today’s connected world, users demand instant connectivity and seamless experience. As the business innovates, the burden on the WAN intensifies, yet three-fourth (75%) of today enterprises say their bandwidth budget will remain flat[1]. IT knows this, and they plan ahead. They evolve their network into a hybrid WAN (see Figure 1), utilize the latest technologies, but application performance still suffers. Why?

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Don’t be Bewitched by the Switch – What You Need to Know when You Evaluate Solutions

It’s undeniable that the biggest convergence happening in the access layer is Wired/Wireless. Today, we’re no longer forced to treat wired and wireless any differently when it comes to network visibility and management. However, the unification of Wired/Wireless doesn’t come without its own challenges and complexity.

As we’ve seen with the latest switching announcement at Interop 2015, there is a lot of noise in the marketplace and customers and partners increasingly need to cut through this to achieve their IT goals and meet today’s increasing demands on the network and the demands of tomorrow.

Earlier this week, HP made false claims about our Catalyst 4500E switch. To help you out, here is what you need to know about Cisco switching and, specifically, our Catalyst 4500E switch:

  • As the world becomes increasingly more digital, there is an elevated need for a flexible and scalable network to address rapid shifts in technology use and its associated traffic. We’ve seen tremendous demand for our modular switches that supply the best flexibility for this change. In fact, Cisco has the industry’s most widely deployed modular access switches with a modular PoE port share that just reached an all time high of 81.5 percent.
  • To tackle the biggest convergence in the access layer, Catalyst 4500E supports built-in wireless controller capabilities and delivers common intelligent services across wired and wireless for security and policy, application visibility and control, network resiliency, smart operations, and more.
  • Cisco’s Catalyst Multigigabit (mGig) technology available across the access portfolio including the Catalyst 4500E can prepare customers’ access switches for the next wave in wireless, 802.11ac wave 2 by delivering speeds beyond 1 Gigabit on existing Category 5e cables. This technology also supports PoE, PoE+, and Cisco Universal PoE (UPOE) so you don’t need to install new electrical circuits to power your access points.
  • Cisco’s modular access switch portfolio offers backward compatibility with up to three generation of line-cards providing unmatched investment protection – 2x in terms of number of years over other vendors.
  • A key operational consideration for IT is to maximize uptime and provide seamless code upgrades. In Service software upgrades (ISSU) have been available on Cisco’s 4500E portfolio for almost a decade
  • The Catalyst 4500E has unmatched scale to meet the needs of a customer’s network and future proof for an influx of new devices – 25X route entries, 16X multicast entries & 42X Security/QoS entries when compared to other vendors.
  • As IoT trends upward, more “things” connect to the access network and it is key that the network is able to scale to meet these needs – Cisco offers 33 percent more scale in terms of POE+ ports and 50 percent more POE+ scale for redundant power deployments to connect more users, devices and things. Additionally, Cisco supports UPOE, which future-proofs our customers for upcoming applications requiring more than 30W/port.
  • Security is a top of mind for our customers and Cisco offers a complete end-to-end solution with support for MacSec, Cisco TrustSec, Identity Services Engine and Flexible Netflow, providing the best in class network encryption, segmentation and networking sensing solutions.
  • The Catalyst 4500E is designed for supporting rich media services with its superior multicast scale and design. Cisco Catalyst 4500 is designed to support hardware accelerated multicast with deep buffers. The Cisco Catalyst 4500E accommodates up to nine times larger data bursts, delivered to otherwise loaded output ports, without loss.
  • Cisco Catalyst 4500E supports a multitude of capabilities that support IT simplicity and smart operations. Examples: Simplified provisioning with Plug and Play, Simplified configuration of switches & interfaces with AutoConfiguration and Interface templates and faster troubleshooting with embedded wireshark, a world-class protocol analyzer.

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Bringing Up a New Branch Site the Easy Way with Prime Infrastructure – Part 5

Last week, I concentrated on how to use Cisco Prime Infrastructure to do troubleshooting for your network. Today, as the 5th and final post of my 5-part blog series, I’ll look at how to maintain network health for your branch site users with Prime. As a quick recap, here’s my blog series on how to set up networking with Prime for a new branch site.

WAN deployment – blog 1
Converged wired and wireless  – blog 2
Application performance – blog 3
Troubleshooting – blog 4
Network health – blog 5 (this blog)
 steve song blog 5 pic 1

As designed, you have successfully brought up your new branch site and the network is now in production. And you are well prepared to troubleshoot if anything goes wrong. Before you declare “mission accomplished”, there is one more step you can take to achieve long-term success. Just like preventive healthcare can help a person to stay healthy, Prime gives you a number of tools to monitor and maintain your network health. By making full use of these tools, you are prepared to address potential issues before they impact your network.

With Prime, you can
– Keep track of network changes with network topology maps and Device 360
° Views;
– Maintain centralized visualization across multiple Prime instances with Operations Center ; and
– Stay engaged with Cisco support integration
.

One of the things that always excites network engineers and managers is an accurate network topology map. Prime Infrastructure can provide such a map for you, which includes all your branch sites and main campus site. If there are any changes, you’ll know right away. Or, if you want to know more details, you can drill down to each networking device with Prime Device 360° View. The chart below shows a portion of Cisco’s production network topology map. Read More »

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Cisco Intelligent WAN with Akamai Connect At Interop

Interop is just around the corner. I am sure there will be plenty of thought provoking content about how to transform IT, compelling demos, and SDN everywhere. But let’s not forget the reality of most IT organizations today.

The majority face the fact that digital innovation is overwhelming their enterprise network. Everything from internal and external Web apps, SaaS, HD video, software updates, mobile apps and even digital signage are traversing the network eating up valuable bandwidth. Analysts even predict that average enterprise bandwidth requirements will increase by up to 50% per year while 60% of WAN budgets are flat or declining.

interop blog 2

 

In addition most enterprises seem to subscribe to doing more with less – particularly when it comes to IT – so upgrading enterprise network bandwidth across locations every few years just isn’t viable – both from a budget and agility perspective. That is not to mention that a lot of enterprises can’t upgrade their bandwidth even if they wanted to due to branch location. Read More »

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Bringing Up a New Branch Site the Easy Way with Prime Infrastructure – Part 4

Last week, I went through application assurance with Cisco Prime Infrastructure. Today, as the 4th post of a 5-part blog series, I’ll go into troubleshooting for your branch site with Prime. Again, as a quick recap, here’s my blog series on how to set up networking with Prime for a new branch site.

WAN deployment – blog 1
Converged wired and wireless  – blog 2
Application performance – blog 3
Troubleshooting – (this blog)
Network health – blog 5
 steve song blog 4 pic 1

By now, your new branch site is in perfect condition with Cisco IWAN, wired and wireless Converged Access, as well as application assurance all working as designed. But you need to be prepared to start troubleshooting if something goes wrong. Every user who runs into network issues means productivity loss.  Every minute of a down network causes a significant amount of business loss. Fortunately, Cisco Prime Infrastructure gives you many tools, so you can achieve speedy problem resolution and provide outstanding user experience.

Here’s a Prime troubleshooting success story that a customer told me. It’s a hospital in Dallas, Texas. Keeping their wireless network running was a critical business priority because the medical staff depended on it for communications and patient care. One day, nurses reported intermittent wireless problems in a room. You know, intermittent problems can be hard to troubleshoot. When you are ready to diagnose the problem, the symptoms may or may not exist anymore. Using Prime, their networking team was able to narrow down to a laptop which was always present when the wireless problems occurred. As it turned out, it was doing heavy and unauthorized live streaming which hogged the wireless bandwidth. The owner was immediately notified to stop streaming. Problem solved and case closed. Read More »

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