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What’s In Your Network? And What Are You Going to DO About it? Call Vodafone!

Network customers have always bought networks for one and only one reason: to run their applications over them.  Yet for most of that time, those networks have been largely oblivious to the composition of the network traffic they carried.  Traditional network tools could tell you whether your network was having a lot of errors, or whether a given link or interface was congested, but they couldn’t tell you what was congesting your network, beyond the limited granularity of a few well-known ports.  Finding out that you’ve got a lot of HTTP or HTTPS is not very helpful in finding out whether you’re swamped by personal traffic that needs to be controlled, or by legitimate business traffic that requires an increase in effective bandwidth.

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The Foundation for a Business Relevant Network

With the growing influx of new mobile devices, connected things, bandwidth intensive applications and more data, the network is more relevant to business success than ever before.  Back in June of 2012, Cisco saw that we needed to move away from multiple network systems loosely linked together to an agile and simple infrastructure, streamlined policy and centralized management would be needed to support new business demands. We called it Cisco Unified Access and we aligned the solution to three pillars: One Network, One Policy and One Management.

For the last few years, we have focused on delivering new products and functionality under this Unified Access model. Below is a timeline of products released as part of the Unified Access framework. Cisco lead the way in delivering gigabit 802.11ac Wi-Fi., converged wireless control in access switches and through the acquisition of Meraki – a complete cloud-managed network solution.

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The timeline above doesn’t represent every feature and function we have delivered, but it shows Cisco’s commitment to this Unified Access model, both from a cloud-managed and on-premise solution perspective.

Today, Cisco is announcing a number of new products and new functionality to existing products that will help mobilize the workforce, secure the business and increase IT agility. The announcement includes the following: Read More »

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Cloudburst: iOS 8 Generates 50% Increase in Network Traffic

Many network engineers recall the iOS7 update on September 18, 2013 as one of the most historic download days of their network’s history. All the more reason for us in the wireless world who anxiously anticipated the September 17 release of iOS8.

We asked a few of our customers to monitor the effect of the software release on their networks and the results for the first two days are in. Those in the education and healthcare space in particular are filled with early adopters of WiFi technology and devices, and eager to get their hands on the latest updates.

Joe Rogers, Associate Network Director at the University of South Florida shared this picture with us from 1pm September 17th, showing 1 Gbps more traffic than he would normally see at this time of day:

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Another customer, Greg Sawyer, Manager of Infrastructure Services, shared this picture of the iOS8 effect on his network at the UNSW Australia.

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He noted that his experience handling the release this year felt smoother than last year, despite the new peak internet download of 4.65 Gbps and 21Tb downloaded for the day! Not too surprising when considering that there were 27,000 concurrent connections on the wireless network and approximately 60% of those being Apple devices.

How should organizations be considering and handling these network spikes? I sat down with Cisco technical leaders Matt MacPherson and Chris Spain (@Spain_Chris) to get some insight on the effect of big updates like iOS8 on the wireless network. Here are some of the highlights of what we discussed:

The World We Live In

The truth is, more and more services are being moved to the cloud—a cloud that will push updates to millions & in the future billions of users and devices on our networks. Read More »

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#IWANWed: Harness the Power of Web Within the Enterprise Branch

Cloud Web Security AAG ImageIn the ever-changing world of enterprise branch environments, a high number of businesses are planning to migrate their WAN to the Internet. To be exact, Nemertes Research (Benchmark 2012–13 Emerging WAN Trends) estimates that number to be close to 50%.  That’s 50% of businesses migrating to Internet for WAN.

And why is that happening? Enterprises are trying to optimize their WAN to increase ROI. Internet has become a much more stable platform, offering significant price-to-performance gains. Thus, the growth of new cloud traffic, high bandwidth applications, and video can be easily load balanced across multiple WAN lines, one of which or both can be Internet links. Some of the enterprises go even further and enable local Internet breakout from the branch. Not only does it eliminate the need to unnecessarily backhaul the traffic to the corporate HQ or data center, but also helps to free up the precious WAN bandwidth for critical business related applications. This enables enterprises to provide guest Internet access within the branch and then slowly offer the same services to corporate users, both for trusted public clouds applications and general Internet access. Read More »

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Winning Back the Weather Radio Channels Adds Capacity to 5GHz Wi-Fi Spectrum

In my last blog on 5 GHz spectrum, I discussed the recent FCC ruling that permitted outdoor access points to use the U-NII 1 band (5150-5250 MHz).

But the story doesn’t  stop there. As mentioned last time, there are significant technical challenges to using the 5 GHz band. It is not cleared spectrum. It contains incumbent uses that are important for national security and public safety. Therefore, it is imperative that Wi-Fi not create harmful interference to these incumbent systems. Cisco will not settle for less.

On the topic of interference, a particularly interesting component of the same  FCC ruling that opened the U-NII1 band for outdoor AP’s is that it also re-opened the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) band (channels 120, 124, 128) with new test requirements for DFS protection. Hold on, let’s backtrack a bit before diving into what this means:

What is TDWR?

In brief, Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) “is a Doppler weather radar system used primarily for the detection of hazardous wind shear conditions, precipitation, and winds aloft on and near major airports situated in climates with great exposure to thunderstorms in the United States.” TDWR uses the frequency band from 5600-5650 MHz which is why wireless network equipment needs to be proven to “do no harm” to TDWR. If you’re curious for more information on TDWR, then please click here and/or here.

A Brief History

Many of you reading this will recall that the FCC closed the use of the TDWR band several years ago as the result of numerous reports of wireless equipment creating interference with TDWR. Read More »

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