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Good, Fast, or Cheap – Pick Any Two

There’s an old saying, “Good, Fast, or Cheap -- Pick Any Two” that I’ve liked for years. It still generally holds true for those of us who can work with our hands. When I’m not helping Cisco expand its wireless universe, I like to work with my hands.

I’m actually pretty good at it, I’ve installed hardwood, tile, and marble floors and showers in our house, recently remodeled one of our bathrooms after ripping the previous one out right down to the studs and concrete pad. I can build a pretty mean V8 engine, and most things you’d see in a house or small business by hand.

The problem is I’m slow. Really slow. Like, measure three times before I cut once kind of slow. I doubt I’d last even a week as a professional contractor because of this. So, the tag line “Good, Fast, or Cheap” applies pretty well to me.

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Take the SBA-Train

As someone who grew up riding the Boston MBTA, and later the New York City subway system, I have an affection for that gritty form of public transit. So I loved the New York Times article from some weeks ago that detailed the results of the city’s subway survey. My favorite quote:  “Please.  I’ve lived in New York for 20 years — I’ve seen more bizarre things on the trains than I can remember.  That’s why we live here.” 

When you zoom out from that passenger experience, though, there’s a lot that goes into building a subway system to carry all that humanity. Just look at this site dedicated to dreaming up a better MBTA for Boston. Clearly people rely on subway systems for different things and have very subjective needs when it comes to the design of the overall system. And that’s why Cisco’s new Smart Business Architecture (SBA) subway system is so cool. It’s designed to help you navigate easily from Point A to Point B as you move through the modules that help you turn a Borderless Network Architecture into a reality.

Each module—or subway stop—represents a prescriptive, step-by-step guide for a specific aspect of the Borderless Network Architecture. And when you zoom in to explore that guide, you find a clear point of orientation.

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Business Video Increases Demands on the Network

The use of video in enterprises has been growing rapidly as many enterprises are realizing the value of video. Many enterprises use video for multiple aspects of their business operations including corporate communications, team meetings, e-learning, digital signage and the use of video assets within their business processes. Likely a combination of video technologies and tools are required to meet the enterprise needs.

Different video applications will behave differently and put different demands on the network. The chart below illustrates a range of business video applications with different characteristics and network requirements.

Telepresence is two-way real-time video while streaming video is one-way broadcast video. Telepresence has stringent network requirements and it is highly sensitive to latency, jitter and loss, whereas streaming video can better tolerate delays; by buffering a larger amount of content before rendering it, in order to smooth out the video experience and compensate for network jitter.

Generally speaking, it is straight forward to provision the network for Telepresence as long as you know how many rooms are in your network, the typical usage pattern (e.g. 60% usage between office hours) and the traffic characteristics. In contrast to Telepresence, it is much harder to provision the network for desktop collaboration video as the usage pattern is not as well defined. Worst yet, do you know how many users are equipped with high definition web cameras built into their laptop on your network? The situation is exasperated by new collaboration tools with one click away, what started as a low bandwidth instant messaging session could end up be a high bandwidth video desktop collaboration session.

These are just some examples of the challenges associated with deploying, managing and assuring quality of business video applications. As more types of video applications that pose different demands into the network are deployed, the need for intelligent networks like medianets become critical. Medianets can simplify and reduce costs of deploying video, as well as efficiently use network resources and dynamically adapt to changing network conditions and demands from different video applications to deliver optimal video quality.

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Campus Networking – Making the most widely deployed modular platform better

How do you take the most widely deployed modular switch in the industry, and make it better?  With more than 650,000 chassis deployed, how do you protect your customers’ investments in their existing platform while offering a seamless path to deploy new components without forcing “fork-lift” upgrades?

On October 5th, Cisco announced a complete refresh of the Catalyst 4500 series platform, the most widely deployed modular platform in the industry, with new supervisor engine, line cards and operating system.  We gave it 2.6x more bandwidth, and the highest PoEP port density of any access switch in the industry.  Catalyst 4500E comes with an open and modular operating system, IOS XE that is capable of running 3rd party services.  The new system is highly available with features such as sub 10 millisecond In Service Software Upgrades.  Flexible NetFlow brings unprecedented application visibility.  Catalyst 4500E ships with a single universal software image – one image for LAN Base, IP Base and Enterprise Services that is managed by software licensing application.  Customers can also introduce new line cards without upgrading the OS.  We designed Catalyst 4500E for the future while providing support for the past by making the new components compatible with existing chassis.  In fact, Catalyst 4500 platform offers the longest investment protection of any modular access switch in the industry with more than 10 years of backward compatibility. 

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Better Together – The Inevitable Integration of Networks and Rich Media Applications – Part 3

December 22, 2010 at 8:05 am PST

In part 2 of this blog series, I discussed the need for the network to operate in collaboration with rich media applications to deliver quality services.

The key to a successful medianet architecture is the integration of endpoint/application and network to deliver a flexible end to end system. By exchanging information between these two entities, it enables the network to deliver the right services to the application whilst maximizing the resources available. This enables the network to understand the changing requirements of the application and can lead to the endpoint explicitly asking for services, such as recording and transcoding, rather than the network relying on traffic analysis to determine whether a service is needed or not. Intelligent interaction would also enable the network to negotiate service levels with the endpoints.

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