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How Do You Plan for 2011 – Part 1: Beyond Server Virtualization

December 20, 2010 at 9:22 am PST

I was reading the recent TheInfoPro report (Information Security Wave 13, 2010) last week. It confirmed a major trend. That is, server virtualization has gained great acceptance. The report shows that more than 45% of organizations now have their servers running on virtualized equipment, with another 30% being planned within the next two years. Such impressive adoption rate is not surprising, given the clear business benefits.  The Cisco Connected World Report, Part 3 revealed that increased IT agility and flexibility, as well as optimized resource to save cost are the leading factors that drive virtualization. Looking ahead, virtualization adoption will go beyond just servers.

Earlier this month, LG made a media splash as it announced its intent to offer Android phones that can switch identities when a user taps on the VMWare icon on the phone screen. This would allow the user to switch between two phone SIM cards—one her personal number, and the other her corporate number given by her company. Isn’t it cool to carry your own personal hypervisor anywhere you go?

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Customer Success in Accelerating Performance – How did an International Insurance Company use WAAS Effectively?

National Insurance Company Limited of India (NIC) delivers near real-time performance for its core applications to remote offices with Cisco’s Wide Area Application Service (WAAS).

National Insurance Company (NIC) Limited has many users across over 1,000 branches throughout India. These branches connect to their main data center using a decentralized network model that links remote offices using a mix of 64 Kbps and 128 Kbps connections.  Under this model, NIC’s remote offices were facing slower application processing due to high WAN latency, heavy network traffic, and increasing transactions, among other factors.

NIC Deputy General Manager (IT), Mr. D. K. Sinha knew that they needed to do something different to boost application performance to cater for their new core insurance application (CIA).  Their users were experiencing slow network performance, even with applications such as Lotus Notes; moreover, the bandwidth upgrade at remote locations came with a heavy price tag.  In conclusion, NIC needed a new network solution to accelerate applications, cut branch infrastructure costs, and simplify remote data protection.

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Better Together – The Inevitable Integration of Networks and Rich Media Applications – Part 2

December 16, 2010 at 9:14 am PST

This is the second part of a 3-part blog. In the first part, we discussed the challenges of deploying many different rich media applications in the enterprise.

So what is the path ahead for the rich media enabled enterprise?  Many of the challenges, well documented in other blogs, are not without network based solutions. Automated configuration via protocols such as CDP and LLDP to simplify deployment and bandwidth reservation through the RSVP protocol to maximize bandwidth usage have all been around for some time. The problem has not been the lack of network solutions but instead the lack of consistent adoption of these services across the range of rich media endpoints. If we are to expect diverse applications to optimize the usage of an increasingly precious and shared resource such as bandwidth its imperative that they leverage the network functions available and do so in a consistent manner. Up until this point network services and rich media applications have effectively been ships in the night as application vendors have designed their systems to work independently of the network services. This can work but only up and until a point. Network only solutions lack the contextual awareness of the endpoints. To the network divorced from its applications the traffic flows are barely distinguishable from each other and therefore applying services that optimize the experience and the network resources becomes impossible.

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Mighty Stephen Hawking, CVO and Hedging Your Bets

Stephen Hawking, a brilliant author and physicist, earlier this year explained that the human race’s sole hope for long term survival is for us to spread our bets by colonizing space, thus eliminating a potential single point of failure (Earth) which could be the end of us all. Smart guy. When we build networks, best practices dictate not having single points of failure, so why not architect the survival of the species in a similar way?

A bit extreme, arguably requiring some technology that doesn’t exist yet, but similar things can be said about businesses. Replace the planet with an office and Stephen Hawking’s theories start to fit.

Let me explain.

Here at Cisco, we not only believe in teleworking, or working from home, but we also manufacture equipment to support such efforts, such as our Cisco Virtual Office package. Just like humanity with all of our eggs in the Earth basket, in the past, businesses used to place all of their eggs in the office basket. No office, no work, no company. Fire? Blizzard? Flood? Pandemic? Sorry, you are down, perhaps out of business.

Solutions like the Cisco Virtual Office (CVO), where the teleworker has wireless data, IP telephony and video protected with encryption and QoS, allow businesses to provide employees with the bonus of being able to work from home.  This is a competitive differentiator from the HR perspective, but it also allows companies to hedge their bets and put the company in a far stronger disaster recovery/risk management/business continuity position by ensuring that no single event outside of a comet strike or a nuclear war would completely shut the business down because the people doing the work are geographically dispersed, safe, sound and able to work from home.

Professor Hawking (who by the way, is said to have enjoyed not only appearing on the Simpsons but also his rap alter ego the MC “Mighty Stephen” Hawking) is a smart guy.  He worries about things like dinosaur killer comets. The rest of us may be tempted to leave the big thinking to others, but winter is coming and brings snow storms and bad weather. Remember swine flu? Sure, the world is unlikely to end tomorrow, but how unlikely is a flood, a blizzard or a bad flu variant this month, this winter or next year?

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Optimizing the WAN with the Next Generation Integrated Service Router (ISR G2)

Enterprises have become increasingly dependent on their networks to deliver applications and data access to users throughout their organization, not only at corporate headquarters but also to branch offices and locations around the world. As employees become increasingly dependent on access to applications to perform their job functions, it is paramount that the Wide Area Network (WAN) provides the highest level of performance possible.

The emergence of WAN optimization in recent years has resulted in significant gains to the enterprise in terms of application performance, reduced network costs, and improved employee productivity and customer satisfaction.  To date, the majority of WAN optimization efforts that have been concentrated in branch offices deployments were available primarily as dedicated appliances.

IDC research has found the demand for WAN optimization to be broad based among a large variation in the types of users, types of traffic patterns, and geographical mix of remote offices. As a result, in addition to evaluating the immediate benefit of WAN optimization, customers evaluate a number of factors within their own unique network configuration, including the cost to deploy and manage appliances as well as their relationships and contractual obligations with service providers.

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