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#CiscoChat: Benefits of Software-Defined WAN Solutions

Depending on the publications you favor or industry news sites you frequent, Software Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WANs) are either the next best thing on the network horizon, or a tech innovation that still needs to be met with just a hint of skepticism. Regardless of your stance, the question on most people’s mind is can this emerging technology deliver the benefits it promises?

Answering this question is critical.  Today’s WANs are becoming increasingly complex and in turn, difficult to manage.  And SD-WANs are garnering more headlines as organizations begin to turn to them for maximizing bandwidth without completely overhauling their networks. But just like any tech advancement, CIOs are cautious, still wondering if SD-WANs are indeed  ready for “prime time” and can be implemented without being difficult to manage and more importantly, not increasing the bottom line.

Many organizations are struggling to find their sweet spot when it comes to rapidly responding to new business opportunities, optimizing user experiences and controlling costs. This has become even more of a challenge with the proliferation of mobile devices, wide-spread adoption of cloud-based services and increasing use of high-bandwidth applications. Read More »

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Cisco extends market leadership for Unified Access with revolutionary ASIC

Cisco innovates in the industry’s largest product line

Cisco Unified Access is about converging wired and wireless networks to improve scale and quickly launch new services with new levels of security and compliance.

When Cisco launched the Catalyst 3850 and WLC 5760 Controller in January 2013, it stood alone in the market for truly converging Wired and Wireless networks. Over the course of the last 2.5 years, Cisco has progressively extended its lead with more platforms and features based on the revolutionary ASIC which makes this rich convergence possible. And just this month, Cisco delivered Multi-gigabit Ethernet (or mGig), which enables the move to higher Wireless speeds based on the IEEE 802.11ac Wave 2 standard. Let’s start by clearly articulating why the home-grown ASIC is so fundamental to successfully integrating Wired and Wireless networks in a seamless way.

The foundational ASIC which Cisco developed is called Unified Access Dataplane (UADP). It cost well over $150M, and took several years to develop and refine. It delivers Hardware performance with Software flexibility and comes with many unique innovations. The defining characteristic of this ASIC is the true full-featured convergence of Wired and Wireless traffic together with its flexible forwarding engine.

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Converged Access Branch Design (MC over WAN)

“Why can’t I have MC across a WAN boundary to manage multiple branch MA?”
I get this question a lot. I get asked if it isn’t logical to have the MC at a central location across a WAN boundary managing multiple MA at different branch locations. Sometimes it’s hard to comprehend this architectural construct for folks who are migrating from the centralized WiFi world and I totally get their confusion around this subject.

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Proving the Value of SD-WAN

In a recent TechTarget survey, it was noted that despite the hypes about numerous benefits of SD-WAN – one of which is the ability to create a hybrid WAN environment (i.e. MPLS and Internet or LTE links), something Gartner claims will be “the new normal,” – only 10% of enterprises plan to deploy hybrid WAN in the next 12 months. The greatest concern for the slow uptake is whether Quality of Service (QoS) can be done over Internet connections. In addition to that, management complexity and security vulnerabilities by going to Direct Internet Access (DIA) are also top of mind. Of the 1,437 that were surveyed, 54% is still in the consideration stage about SD-WAN, and the number one considering factor is to reduce WAN costs. This is not a surprise, but a perplexing issue for CIO, CISO, and IT Admins especially when analysts, like Gartner, and respondents in an April 2015 ETAB Survey, are prescribing SD-WAN as the enterprise’s top IT priorities for the next 3-year.

We will examine the following in this post: a) the State of the WAN in 2015, b) what we hear from customers, and c) a successful, real world SD-WAN deployment.  Read More »

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Application Visibility Makes Parenting Easier!

internet usage-v1.Parenting in a hyper-connected world is increasingly challenged by lack of visibility into children’s internet usage, and by limited controls to customize internet usage policies per child. About a year ago, I installed a home router with parental-controls. My kids (teenage girls!) quickly complained about the additional latency it introduced on the network. User experience was clearly in the tank. I soon discovered that those controls were not granular enough to customize for different times of the day, for different users, and down to individual devices.

By then, I realized that I had to fundamentally rethink my home network in order to become a more effective parent. I needed better insight into my network’s traffic. Finally, last fall, the geek in me awakened and I deployed a full-fledged Cisco network in my home with advanced Application Visibility & Control (AVC) capabilities, providing me deep insight into my home’s internet traffic.

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