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HDX Blog Series #1: Why Spectrum Intelligence Still Matters

Editor's Note: This is the first of a four-part deep dive series into High Density Experience (HDX), Cisco's latest solution suite designed for high density environments and next-generation wireless technologies. For more on Cisco HDX, visit www.cisco.com/go/80211ac

CleanAir for 802.11ac:  Why Spectrum Intelligence Still Matters

In wireless networking and communications, as with life, nothing good comes for free. It’s well known that the primary feature of the new IEEE 802.11ac amendment is support for an 80 MHz-wide channel. The benefit of an 80 MHz channel is the potential to double usable throughput in comparison to that of 802.11n using a 40 MHz wide channel.

However, what is less well known is that a wider RF channel is also more susceptible to interference. In other words, 802.11ac devices “hear more” than 802.11n devices, primarily due to the wider channel support. It should be noted that this is not a flaw in the 802.11ac amendment, it’s simply basic communications theory.

Nevertheless, there is far more to building an 802.11ac access point than simply meeting the standard. Not all 802.11ac access points perform equally without interference. But more importantly, not all 802.11ac access points perform well in the presence of interference.

Furthermore, there is far more to deploying High Density wireless LANs than only considering the performance of individual access points. Read More »

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Prepare Your Networks for High Density without Compromising on Performance

A new year means new users and new devices. More devices means more network crowding. Mobile users demand bandwidth and speed, while the network is increasingly overwhelmed by the sheer number of devices. The networks of today and tomorrow have to be ready for high client density environments.

That’s why we’ve developed the Cisco High Density Experience (HDX). I announced HDX in a blog last October with a high level look at Cisco’s answer to handling high client density environments. Each feature in the HDX solution was designed specifically to alleviate the introduction of more clients, more bandwidth hungry applications to provide an unparalleled user experience.

Starting tomorrow we’ll kick off an HDX blog series to dive deep into the four key features that come with HDX:

  1. January 8: CleanAir
  2. January 13: Turbo Performance
  3. January 27: ClientLink 3.0
  4. February 10: Optimized Roaming

For more on Cisco’s approach to 802.11ac, visit www.cisco.com/go/80211ac.

 

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Enterprise Platform as a Service

Deploying Multi-Tier Application Stacks with Puppet and Chef

In a previous Cisco Data Center blog, we announced our configuration management accelerator for cloud to enable organizations to move beyond monolithic golden templates into a dynamic TOSCA-modeled application design canvas. Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) has been working for months with PuppetLabs and OpsCode (Chef) and has had multiple successful customer proof-of-concept deployments.

The Cisco configuration management accelerator provides customers with a substantial improvement over the manual process of building and implementing multiple golden templates to build multi-tier application stacks. The application stack is now described, and the description drives implementation.  Changes to the description apply to all future instances, and can even update running instances in continuous delivery scenarios. The benefit is that the description becomes the master plan and machines are consistently and automatically constructed from that master plan without intervention by IT. Software defines the application configuration.

Cisco’s cloud accelerator approach is true to an open philosophy that provides customers with a choice of solutions – not locking them into a single hypervisor, configuration tool, solution path, or even hardware selection. The configuration management accelerators follow directly in the footsteps of our multi-cloud accelerator released last year.  That accelerator enabled Cisco IAC to provision, orchestrate and manage VMware vCloud Director, Amazon EC2, and OpenStack. It has also been extended by customers to include Hyper-V, Azure and Rackspace through the preplanned extensibility built into it.

Read More »

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Be smart about your smartphone during summer travel

Info in the ‘cloud’ can help when stranded …or planning ahead  

Many of us dream about getting away from it all while on vacation. But those days may be long gone as more of us pack our smartphone when we hit the road. Add a tablet or two to your carry on and you’d rather lose your underwear than this bag.

So despite any desire to unplug, stay connected for all the cool travel apps that may make the difference between seeing George Clooney’s villa on Lake Como from a travel brochure or in person by finding it say on Trip Advisor’s mobile app.

george clooney - close
Actor George Clooney’s Villa on Lake Como

Smartphone apps are great for having information (literally) at your fingertips. Apps like Kayak and Hotel Tonight often have hotel rates cheaper than you’d find on web sites – certainly on a hotel’s web site -- and this you have to love:  They display the rates for international hotels in U.S dollars.


Best Western Venice
Best Western Venice on KayakBest Western Venice on Kayak

Of course you need to be on the Internet to access many apps, but some like Trip Advisor's offline city guides you can download while on Wi-Fi and use later when you’re not online.

One of the best things to come along for the international traveler is an app called Viber that uses VoIP technology so you escape high roaming charges. You get FREE text messaging and phone calls …but anyone you communicate with must also have Viber.

When you are connected to the Internet, travel apps work so well because they reside in the cloud where content is updated dynamically in real time, giving you access to the latest information. My Facebook friend and Cisco colleague Guido Jouret used this to his advantage when his long flight to SFO was diverted recently after a European vacation.

Once on the ground, try some of these:

Peek isn’t an app yet but a very new web-based travel guide with great ideas for activities in various cities, and even includes live chat with a travel expert.

AroundMe tells you all the points of interest located near you. It detects your current location, and lets you select from categories like bars, cafés, hospitals, and hotels to find what you like.

Mtrip guide/trip planner generates auto itineraries of places to go according to types of places you enjoy.

Orient gives you a compass view of certain locations nearby. If you're doing a walking tour of a city, Orient shows you the directions and distance to of your destinations.

World Lens is for both iphones and android phones and lets you point your smartphone's video camera at a word on a sign and watch as it's translated from one language to another.

Expensify keeps track of your purchases and transactions by syncing with your credit cards and bank accounts. It also acts as a receipt scanner by using your phone’s camera. After your trip, you're sent a PDF report of all your spending.

For news on my friend Guido’s trip home from Europe, I turned to my smartphone’s Facebook app …and there he was, almost home.

Please send me your comments and how you use the Internet during your summer travels so I can use them on my next vacation.

Mary

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David Yen Offers A Peek Behind the Curtain

May 10, 2013 at 12:20 am PST

I had the opportunity to chat with David Yen a few days ago on a number of topics--one of the things he touched on was how he sees the data center evolving.  Now seeing as David is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of our Data Center Group, there are more than just idle musings.  Here is a snippet of our conversation:

YEN high yes

Omar Sultan: David, you talk about the evolution to an application-defined fabric--from a practical perspective, what does that mean to our customers?

David Yen: We are seeing a shift from a static, IT-controlled environment to a highly dynamic, user-driven environment.  The net effect is to bring IT and the business closer together so that is good, but there are some practicalities that need to be addressed in the process.  Amon the things we are focused on is making IT easier to consume for app owners and making this dynamic new environment easier to manage for IT.

OS: So, what are we doing to help customers make this transition?

DY: Well, we have been giving them the tools to prepare for this on-demand world for over five years now--our entire Unified DC portfolio—Unified Fabric, Unified Computing and Unified Management --is built around making data center resources flexible and more responsive to quickly changing user demands.

Unified Fabric allows customers to quickly and easily provision network and storage access wherever and whenever they need it. Similarly, UCS Service Profiles allow a UCS server to quickly and automatically adapt to the specific needs of a new workload.  We have an entire portfolio of complimentary VM-networking technologies that then ensure there is consistency between the physical and virtual environments. Finally, Unified Management orchestrates, automates, and puts the infrastructure at your fingertips. Today, you can completely configure infrastructure for your apps with a few mouse-clicks.  And with Cisco ONE, we are now adding the programmatic interfaces so apps and other systems will be able to directly configure their infrastructure for themselves.

While we have been doing this for a while now, it seems some companies are just catching-up.  Recently, we saw a competitor claim leadership in the data center, but if you closely examine their claims, they announced things we have been shipping for a while: cloud-optimized architecture: check, on-demand resources: check, orchestration and management tools: check, L2 Multi-Path: check. Its actually more interesting to note what’s missing—things like network and compute integration, hybrid cloud capabilities, service chaining and multi-hypervisor support. Speeds and feeds are always important, but if that’s all you can talk about, then you are not going to be relevant to today’s conversation.

OS: Where are we going next with the data center fabric?

DY: Looking ahead, there are a couple of areas we will look to address.  First of all, while we know that customers are aggressively moving to VM and cloud-based workloads, there is going to be a significant transition period and most enterprise data centers will remain a mix of physical, virtual and cloud workloads and we want to give customers a more comprehensive approach to dealing with this.  At the end of the day, the data center should be able to deal with all types of workloads as equal citizens.  We don't have that today in the industry--we have to resort to gateways and other mechanisms to span across physical, virtual and cloud domains--while that's OK in the interim, its problematic in the long-term.

The other area we will address is increasing operational simplicity.  In this dynamic environment, it is neither feasible nor desirable for network operations to be involved in every config change.  Ultimately we need to be able to do things at machine speed.  You have seen some initial steps in that direction with the Nexus 1000V and its hypervisor integration or new technologies like Power-On Auto Provisioning.  Our work with Cisco Open Network Environment has given us the tools and mechanisms to open networks up to facilitate these machine-to-machine or application-to-machine conversations through APIs like onePK and REST and through support of SDN controllers and agents like OpenFlow.

OS: David, why should customers remain confident about Cisco's vision?

DY: Betting on Cisco is not an act of faith--time and again, we have lead market transitions and delivered the technologies customers need to take advantage of those transitions.  We are still, by far, the preferred networking choice, even in the most demanding environments like Massively Scalable DCs, where we are in production for 9 or  10 of the largest providers. We have more than 40,000 NX-OS customers and over 11 million 10GbE ports out there. This gives us unmatched insight into what customers are actually doing and where they are going with their networks. Similarly, we will be delivering VM network solutions across all four major hypervisors, which gives us unmatched breadth of experience in that space.  Central to this longevity is avoiding technical blinders. UCS was a great example of our willingness to start off with customer needs in mind. Everything was on the table and that led us to breakthroughs like a brand new operations model based on service profiles.  This willingness to risk and lead has translated into to remarkable growth in a very demanding market against a number of capable and entrenched competitors.

As I look at the competition, I see two hurdles they must clear.  The first is simply one of simple experience.   Its one thing to have a theoretical understanding of a technology and its quite another thing to have actually built and supported it.   We have being shipping our Nexus 1000V virtual switch for four years now--we are into third generation functionality like hybrid cloud transport, cloud-based routing services, service chaining and multi-hypervisor support. Compare this to companies that are just getting around to shipping their first virtual switch and will still be working through first generation features and problems.

The second hurdle is a matter of getting caught up in a technical agenda instead of focusing on the customer's agenda.  Software in networking is all the rage right now, for some very good reasons, but you see companies that want to shift all the network functionality into the software because that suits the narrative they want to tell.  Now you and I both know, there are some things that absolutely are better handled in software, but, by the same token, there are things are better handled in hardware.  We have control over both and that gives us the freedom to put functions where they are best handled. We think that will always give us an advantage over companies that are locked into a particular narrative and must make compromises to support that story.

 

To hear more from David, and trust me, he has some interesting and entertaining things to say, check out his Solution Keynote on Monday, June 24 at CiscoLive in Orlando.

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