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.
Enterprises are beginning to take video seriously and its integration into every day business is starting to become commonplace. Rich media collaboration is no longer just about video conferencing, it now covers everything from Telepresence to desktop video with existing web conferencing solutions adopting video as part of the user experience. Added to this, we have digital signage in retail stores and sports stadiums and corporate TV solutions to get messages out to the troops. Even long standing solutions like surveillance are migrating from their closed circuit environments and migrating to IP based infrastructures to gain the benefits of cost reduction and a common physical security platform. The common denominator to these trends is the converged IP network. Just as it was for unified communications and the migration of TDM voice to IP voice, the same transition is occurring for rich media applications. But the question is how ready are today’s Enterprise networks to support these new demands and what will the industry need to do to deliver multiple concurrent rich media applications on the same infrastructure?
Brad Boston, Cisco Senior Vice President in the Global Government Solutions Group, discusses the recent milestones in Cisco’s Internet Router in Space program, including the first-ever software upgrade of an Internet Protocol router aboard a commercial satellite while in orbit, as well as completing the industry’s first VoIP call made without the use of any terrestrial infrastructure to route the call.
I’m going to date myself here, but when the Berlin Wall came down I was lucky enough to go over to Berlin and trade smokes through holes with the East German guards on the other side. I have a piece of the wall, a chunk of cement with paint on it, somewhere. CNN was disruptive new media, mobile phones cost $1400 and you could talk on them for $1/minute. The Internet was a curiosity for academic and government use; many mail servers were run as open relays and a good dialup modem would get you 14,000 bps. Networks were simpler too, for the most part you were either inside the building and on the network or you were not on the network. Work was both a place and a verb.
The British pop band Jesus Jones captured perfectly the zeitgeist of those days with the song “International Bright Young Thing” which I first heard in a friend’s apartment in Kyoto. The refrain “Right here, right now, there’s no other place I would rather be,” seemed so perfect, so right.
Recently, SearchNetworking posted an interesting article titled “NetFlow v9 is powerful, so why isn’t anyone using it?” Shamus discusses many of the benefits of NetFlow v9: deeper visibility into application traffic flows and application performance, and the ability to use NetFlow to consolidate and enhance other network management functions. However, he ends on a sour note: “but the technology is more complex to learn than the good old reliable v5. Still enterprises will eventually be forced to make the transition.”
In his article, Shamus points out that customers may feel intimidated by the complexity of NetFlow v9. I’d like to address this concern with a response. If you are of my generation, you will no doubt remember carbureted automobile engines.
Maybe you or your dad spent Saturday afternoons tinkering with one in the garage, or maybe you were just caught off-guard when one morning the car wouldn’t start. Netflow v5 is a lot like a carbureted engine: it is very common, anyone familiar with it knows how it works, and it is easy to set-up. Now, let’s fast-forward to the current generation of technology.