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Application Visibility & Control: CleanAir at the Applications Level

October 8, 2012 at 5:00 am PST

The Problem:

There are many challenges IT managers face on a daily basis. As the proliferation of user devices and the growth in business, personal and collaborative applications continue to grow, almost exponentially, these challenges only make the job of an IT manager harder. For instance, imagine what goes through the mind of an IT administrator who is responsible for helping a hospital and medical school get a handle on device and application growth and usage:

  • Is a guest or patient downloading movies using Bit-Torrent –in other words, stealing valuable airtime away from my mission-critical applications?
  • My network supports a mixed use of guests, employees and vendors/doctors. Without prioritizing applications on the network, employees risk losing productivity and response time to patients, insurance providers, labs. Can I prioritize business-class applications such as Cisco Webex/Jabber and de-prioritize the applications such as Netflix?
  • Who are my top 10 users and the top 10 upstream and downstream applications? Can I save a detailed report of all application flows in my network for compliance purposes?
  • The number of devices, number of users is exploding, and use of video is growing 50% year over year. Should I add more access points in my auditorium or conference room areas? Or should I upgrade to 802.11ac for more capacity?

Enter Cisco Application Visibility Control(AVC) integrated into wireless infrastructure.

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If Bottled Water Prices Can Be Differentiated, So Can Broadband Access

By Roland Klemann, Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG)

Demand for Internet services continues to build. The increasing popularity of smartphones, tablets, and video services is creating a “data tsunami” that threatens to overwhelm service providers’ networks.

So far, service providers have mainly reacted to the data flood with technical counter-measures—for example, by deploying Wi-Fi and small cells to offload data in heavy traffic areas such as sports stadiums and downtown urban areas. The Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) believes that operators should also act on the demand side, which can be best influenced by pricing.

Back in the early 2000s, network operators were clamoring to build their Internet customer base; they replaced their old metered models for dial-up Internet, and enticed new subscribers with unlimited, flat rate, “all-you-can-eat” broadband data plans. This pricing strategy has enabled mass-market penetration—first in fixed, then in mobile. But it has not increased ARPU.

While flat rate pricing plans have contributed to the waves of Internet data swamping the capacity of broadband operators, these plans have done little to create value from all that traffic. In fact, the decoupling of connectivity and service layers can destroy value if you compete on easily comparable flat rate access prices only. Flat rates shift the focus from quality and service differentiation to price competition, and expose operators to the risk of cost-plus-based pricing, with diminishing returns.

In some countries, fixed-broadband providers have started altering flat rates by introducing some forms of usage-based pricing: “throttling” data download speeds for the heaviest users, switching them to potentially more costly metered data plans, or introducing new tiered price plans. Just in the last few months in the United States, both Time Warner Cable and Comcast made announcements about their plans to experiment with usage-based pricing.

While usage-based pricing models are required to fight “bandwidth hogs,” they must be carefully introduced and managed. Customers have learned to love flat rates. The 2011 Cisco IBSG Connected Life Market Watch study found that Read More »

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Getting Connected

The world of transportation is rapidly changing, which is in turn driving rapid change in the world of manufacturing. Transportation products of all kinds have had connectivity in some form for many years however; the connectivity was confusing, unreliable and often deficient in adequate bandwidth and technology to sustain a continuous stream of interactions between equipment and operation centers.  New means of M2M have emerged out of necessity, which have broadened the ecosystem of participants to include tech companies, service providers, and others. Read More »

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Tablets Welcomed. Can Your Wireless Network Support the User Experience Expected of These Sleek Devices?

Ok, so maybe you are starting to give in to the idea that, employees bringing personally owned tablets at work, is indeed not a fad and you have to deal with it. You have decided on a BYOD strategy that protects company and network resources, while (mostly?) satisfying user appetite for connectivity anywhere from any device.

Great! Now. Is your 802.11n wireless network capable of delivering the user experience that is associated with these new sleek gadgets?

If you thought your network is “good enough”, then think again. This client wave is about to disrupt everything in multiple ways.

  • First, more devices on the network translate to significantly higher demands for bandwidth. In many cases bandwidth requirements can grow exponentially because the ratio of user to devices is no longer 1:1 but 1:2 and often 1:3. We therefore expect to see network utilization significantly rise over time.
  • Second, tablet form factor now allows users to truly be mobile. Unlike laptops, users can now walk/move and be productive at the same time. This new type of behavior will increase the number of clients roaming between access points.
  • Finally, it has been observed that tablets are primarily used for content consumption (as opposed to creation), and video is one of the predominant types of content being consumed, which further complicates bandwidth issues, but also creates new challenges.

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3-for-2: The FCoE Bandwidth Bonus

April 29, 2011 at 11:58 am PST

“Dude, you’re killing me!” my friend said to me.

I raised an eyebrow. “What did I do now?” Quick witted, I am.

“I know that you’re all over this FCoE stuff,” he said (actually, he didn’t use the word “stuff“, but you get the idea. “But what’s so great about a lousy 2G of bandwidth?” He sipped his beer, pausing for dramatic effect.

I was confused. “What do you mean, 2 Gig of bandwidth?”

“Look,” he said, sitting his beer down and enjoying his gotcha moment. “If I have 8Gb Fibre Channel and I move to 10Gb FCoE on my Interswitch Links, I’ve only gained 2Gb. I mean, what’s so great about a lousy 25% more?”

I shook my head. “You don’t get 25% more,” I corrected.

His smile broadened. “Aha! I knew it! There’s some overhead crap you gotta deal with, right? It’s even less than that.”

“No,” I said slowly. Now it was my turn to add dramatic effect. “You get 50% more bandwidth with FCoE.”

Every once in a while you get moments of pure schadenfreude. This was one of those moments. His moment of gotcha had spun around on him, and his look of dumbfoundedness was truly entertaining. Truly. Read More »

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