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BYOD for Manufacturing – not what you think!

March 22, 2012 at 12:05 pm PST

So you think you know what BYOD is? Think again!

Cisco Cius - Not BYOD since it's Corporate provisioned.

If you’re a manufacturer you’ve probably heard of BYOD, or ‘Bring Your Own Device’.  You know that more and more devices are proliferating throughout the organization. You also know that security is a big issue: How do you stop folks accessing sensitive systems, how do you protect Intellectual Property, and how do you prevent a disastrous shutdown caused by a device either intentionally or unintentionally?

Well, these are only some of the issues -- and they’re rarely addressed by a ‘Good-Enough Network’. Cisco’s BYOD is different -- it looks at the whole picture. It’s not just about your wireless network -- although the Cisco offerings are better than most! It’s about an holistic approach to BYOD. That covers the plant, IT, the LAN and fixed wired network and the wireless network too. All aspects.

As my colleague, Katie Taylor, says in her blog: Read More »

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Moving Beyond BYOD: Connecting the ‘Anytime, Anywhere’ Workforce

With more than seven billion souls set to tote 10 billion mobile-connected devices by 2016, mobility has not just arrived, it’s taken over our schools, businesses and personal lives.

Just ask Mitch Davis, the CIO of Bowdoin College, a private liberal arts college in Maine. Before BYOD ever became a global IT trend, according to Mitch, the vast majority of college students were already bringing their personal devices into the campus environment.

These co-eds expected Bowdoin to fully embrace personal mobility, and, upon graduation, these same post-grads expect that their employers will do the same (this year’s Connected World Technology Report findings back this up, with more than 40 percent of recent college graduates/Gen Y employees choosing BYOD flexibility over higher pay).

Bottom line, the rules of the game are changing, and companies must move beyond basic BYOD connectivity to meet employee demands today and tomorrow. To help companies meet these demands, we’ve introduced a comprehensive approach that unifies policy, supports a better user experience and simplifies management to deliver an uncompromised user experience in any workspace. After all, Cisco wants to empower IT managers to allow employees to have their devices and use them too. That means delivering:

  1. A unified security policy across the whole organization – wired, wireless, VPN and now MDM – helping companies set and enforce policies;
  2. An uncompromised user experience over the entire wired/wireless network, across any type of device; and,
  3. Simplified operations and network management to understand application performance from a user’s perspective, accelerating troubleshooting and lowering operating costs.

Like Ray-Ban aviators, BYOD is here to stay. And done the right way, BYOD demands a comprehensive approach to allow current and future employees to work how they want, when and where they want, and on the devices they want – while still allowing IT the control and visibility to sleep at night.

Learn more about our announcement and new technologies here.

By the way, whether you’re a college student or have been working for 30 years, you’re eligible to take the BYOD Challenge and win a trip to 2012 London Olympics – good luck!

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802.11i, Authentication and You

January 4, 2012 at 5:00 am PST

Not too long ago I was assigned to a troubleshooting and remediation project for a hospital here in the SF bay area. The problem, after much troubleshooting and lab recreations, was determined to be due to an unique issue with client roaming and authentication. During the course of troubleshooting my coworker and myself often found ourselves explaining 802.1X and 802.11i to others working on the troubleshooting effort, or requesting technical updates. So based on that experience, I started thinking this might a be a good topic to cover here.

Let’s review the some of typical components of the enterprise wireless security model.

What is 802.1X?
802.1X is not a protocol, but rather a framework for a “port-based” access control method.  802.1X was initially created for use in switches, hence the port-based terminology, which really doesn’t fit too well in wireless since users don’t connect to a port. In the end it’s meant to be a logical concept in the 802.11 world.  802.1X was adopted for wireless networks with the creation of 802.11i to provide authenticated access to wireless networks. At a high level. the framework allows for a client that has connected to the WLAN to remain in a blocked port status until it has been authenticated by a AAA server. Essentially the only traffic allow through this virtual blocked port is EAP traffic, things like HTTP would be dropped.

What is EAP?

EAP  (Extensible Authentication Protocol) is the authentication method used by 802.1X. It can take on various forms, such as PEAP, EAP-TLS, EAP-FAST, to name a few. There is one thing to remember when determining what EAP type to use in your network, is that it is dependent upon what your client and AAA server supports. This is it, your AP or AP/Controller hardware or code version will play no part in version is supported. Unless your AP/controller is acting as the AAA server, but I’ll stay away from that in this post. I think this can be a point of confusion for people who haven’t read much or anything about EAP methods. So, if some one asks what version of EAP the AP will support, all you need to do is ask them, what does their Client and AAA server support.

What is 802.11i?

Simply put, 802.11i is an amendment to the original 802.11 standard to address the well documented security short comings of WEP. It incorporates WPA  as a part of the 802.11i amendment and adds the fully approved WPA2 with AES encryption method. 802.11i  introduces the concept of a Robust Security Network (RSN) with the Four-way handshake and the Group key Handshake.

Read More »

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Increasing Your Network Tolerance

As organizations look to improve operations through centralized control, they often need to take into account what would happen if an area of the network fails. In many cases, having a centralized controller-based wireless architecture in organizations with multiple branch offices has prompted the question, “What happens if the WAN is slow, or even worse, goes down?”

Many organizations have been reluctant to implement a centralized wireless controller located in the data center or private cloud due to this concern. Without centralized control, these organizations have two deployment strategies available to them:

  • Implement wireless controllers at each branch site. This approach is perfectly fine for an organization with many Access Points per branch, or those that require high throughput for applications such as Video. However, many branches only require a few Access Points per location or require simple applications such as bar-code scanning and printing. For these organizations, local controllers become less cost effective, with the capital expense becoming prohibitive.
  • Implement access points running in autonomous mode. This approach eliminates the benefits of having any kind of centralized control such as the ability to centrally configure wireless policy and security setting on access points, WIPS capabilities and advanced mobility services like CleanAir, leaving the branch vulnerable and opening the corporate network to attacks.

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Save Time Managing Your Wireless Network

Clustering technology lets you easily configure and manage your wireless access points.

The success of your business depends on the ability of your employees to stay connected to applications and customers, and to work productively throughout your business location. More and more small companies rely on wireless networks to give their employees greater mobility and flexibility, and to support partners and guests at the business site. But configuring, securing, and managing your growing wireless networks can be daunting, especially for small businesses without an IT department.

How can small companies cost-effectively address these demands and realize the full benefits of business-class wireless mobility? One way to simplify this task is to install a clustering wireless access point.

Read More »

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