Cisco Blogs

Cisco Blog > Enterprise Networks

10 Smart New Ways to Keep Your Network Up and Running: Final Thoughts from Cisco Live

After several days of attending Cisco Live, I’m excited about what I’ve seen and heard. Not just from my Cisco colleagues but from customers who are transforming their businesses by using their networks in new and previously unimaginable ways. Today’s business call to action, “Disrupt or be disrupted,” couldn’t be more true.

In my blog before Cisco Live, I described how we decided to combine our two most popular enterprise support services to create one powerful and flexible service. Converging SMARTnet with Smart Net Total Care under the name of Smart Net Total Care allows you to choose the basic network support capabilities traditionally found in SMARTnet, as well as reach higher to access the proactive smart service features of Smart Net Total Care. In doing so, you can optimize the full lifecycle of all your Cisco equipment. This consolidation creates more flexibility and more value for you when it comes to selecting a single solution that supports all your company’s Cisco network devices. Learn more here:


In my last blog, I also shared with you five of the most popular user applications of Smart Net Total Care based on customer feedback.  Now, I’m sharing the final five applications to complete the ten smart ways to keep your network up and running smoothly and reliably – and to protect it from unnecessary risk.  As a reminder, I’ve included the first five. Skip to number 6 if you’re already familiar with them.

1. Simplify Contract Management

Many customers use the contract management features of SNTC to simplify how they manage their Cisco service contracts. It provides a consolidated view of all the Cisco devices in the network and their support contracts.  This visibility can help dramatically reduce the number of contracts and result in less administrative overhead, faster renewals and timely product refresh. If you’re not familiar with how to take advantage of this functionality, take a few minutes to check out this video. It demonstrates how you can plan for service coverage renewal and save hours and even days managing your contracts in the future.

2. Save Installed Base Management Time

Time is your most valuable resource … yet you never have enough. Freeing up time from routine network maintenance tasks helps you focus on more strategic IT assignments. SNTC lets you eliminate steps – and accelerate others – in your IB management process. Learn how you can get more out of your day with time saving tips found in this videoRead More »

Tags: , , , ,

Improve Your Network, Improve Your Business – Why it’s Time to Upgrade Your Campus Network

Today, Cisco is announcing the Cisco Catalyst 6840-X and 3850 10G Fiber Series for campus backbones to address new network infrastructure needs, especially in space constrained deployments.

According to the Visual Networking Index, traffic is expected to triple in the next four years. This means that many campus networks will lack the provisioned capacity to meet this expected growth in bandwidth. In fact, some network managers are telling us that this is already happening to their campus networks.

With video and bandwidth-intensive applications continuing to proliferate, traffic on campus networks is growing exponentially. This drives not only the challenge of managing the demand for growing scale in a secure and reliable fashion, but also the opportunity for IT to leverage video and robust applications to “add value to the business”.  Customers and suppliers are gravitating to businesses that offer them a comprehensive view of product offerings, an instant response, and easy transactions. This also drives additional demands on the network as an enabler for the business.

Things are changing with employees as well. While many employees are provided a mobile phone, most already have at least three mobile devices including laptops, tablets and even private smart phones. Even when employees are not actively using the apps on their mobile devices, these devices can create additional background traffic (OS, App updates & backups). According to a Cisco IBSG study, there are three times more devices per person than just a few years ago. Virtually all devices connect through the employer’s network, which has to service all these devices in a secure, scalable and reliable fashion.

While devices grow in number, wireless connectivity speed is increasing. Gigabit wireless (802.11ac) enables a network that is three times faster due to its 1.3 Gbps capacity.  802.11ac Wave 2 more than doubles that.  Thus, the bottleneck is moving “up the network” from wireless AP to the access uplinks. With 1G becoming the standard for access switch ports, access switch uplinks will need to move to ubiquitous 10G and 40G.  Read More »

Tags: , , , , , ,

“Security Everywhere” – Enterprise Branch Security for Direct Internet Access

Two weeks ago, a leading global medical device manufacturer came to Cisco for advice. In an effort to streamline IT operations and reduce operating costs, the customer had recently migrated from their internal Microsoft Exchange 2010 environment to Office365, Microsoft’s hosted online service.

The migration was initially done for the headquarter users and the feedback was more positive than they expected. However, when they migrated their branch and remote office users, the WAN bandwidth usage almost immediately spiked and user experience suffered as a result.

This customer is certainly not the only company looking to embrace Cloud applications for greater agility, reduced costs and complexity, and increased productivity. Or has had to deal with BYOD issues and the increasing impact of video has on their bandwidth. However, what our customer and those other companies have found is that the current method of backhauling the traffic to the data center is no longer a viable way to handle the increased consumption when faced with a flat or even a declining IT budget. Therefore, many of today’s distributed enterprises are looking to use direct Internet access pathways in an effort to improve the user experience while reducing IT costs.

However, enabling direct Internet access (DIA) at branch offices also forfeits the inherent threat protection that traffic routed through the data center provides. The enterprise-level risks that branch offices face with BYOD issues, compliance requirements, and advanced persistent threats require enterprise-level security. According to Gartner’s “Bring Branch Office Network Security Up to the Enterprise Standard”, “By 2016, 30% of advanced targeted threats — up from less than 5% today — will specifically target branch offices as an entry point.”

Cisco FirePOWER Threat Defense for ISR addresses these issues by extending their industry-leading FirePOWER threat protection beyond its traditional network edge and data center deployments out to individual Cisco ISR routers. Read More »

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Network as a Security Sensor and Enforcer

The Digital Economy and the Internet of Everything means everything is now connected. Digitization is fundamentally transforming how we conduct business. It creates new opportunities to develop services and engage with employees, partners, and customers. It’s important to understand that digitization is also an opportunity for the hacking community, presenting new services, information, data, devices, and network traffic as attack targets. To take full advantage of the digitization opportunity, security must be everywhere, embedded into and across the extended network – from the data center to the mobile endpoints and onto the factory floor.

Today, Cisco is announcing enhanced and embedded security solutions across the extended network and into the intelligent network infrastructure. These solutions extend security capabilities to more control points than ever before with Cisco FirePOWER, Cisco Cloud Web Security or Cisco Advanced Malware Protection. This is highlighted in Scott Harrell’s blog. We are also transforming the Cisco network into two roles: as a sensor and as an enforcer of security.

The role of the Network as a Sensor The network provides broad and deep visibility into network traffic flow patterns and rich threat intelligence information that allows more rapid identification of security threats. Cisco IOS NetFlow is at the heart of the network as a sensor, capturing comprehensive network flow data. You can think of NetFlow as analogous to the detail you get in your monthly cellular phone bill. It tells you who talked to whom, for every device and user, for how long, and what amount of data was transferred – it’s metadata for your network traffic.

Visibility to network traffic through NetFlow is critical for security, as it serves as a valuable tool to identify anomalous traffic on your network. Watching NetFlow, we gain an understanding of the baseline traffic on the network, and can alert on traffic that is out of the ordinary.  The network is generating NetFlow data from across the enterprise network all the way down to the virtual machines in the data center.  This gives us visibility across the entire network, from the furthest branch office down to the east-west traffic in the data center.  Read More »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

10 Smart New Ways to Keep Your Network Up and Running: A Preview of What to See at Cisco Live

CiscoLive! is next week. With more than 23,000 people ciscolivelogo_245x100expected to attend, there’s no event more popular with IT professionals who pride themselves on their networking expertise. As I prepare to travel to San Diego for the occasion, I wanted to share my perspective on how IT organizations can better operate and protect the networks that are the digital backbones of their companies.

Chances are you’re already realizing numerous benefits using either Cisco SMARTnet or Smart Net Total Care (SNTC) Services. We know, because we regularly poll Cisco enterprise customers on how they’re succeeding with each service. We also know that most of us like to have our cake and eat it, too. That’s one reason why we have decided to combine these two services into one powerful and flexible service under the Smart Net Total Care name. 

The move to Smart Net Total Care creates more flexibility and more value for you when it comes to supporting your company’s network.  “Flexibility” means you can choose to only to use the basic features of the combined solution or take full advantage of SNTC’s extended feature set.  Put simply, you can choose only the basic support capabilities traditionally found in SMARTnet or reach higher to access the added value of proactive smart service features in Smart Net Total Care to optimize the full lifecycle of all your Cisco equipment. You can also choose a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) deployment or, if you want a fast boost up the learning curve, we will make available assisted deployment options from Cisco. Flexibility means you choose the approach that is best for you.  Read More »

Tags: , , ,