Network optimization is a touchy subject for many in the IT world, and a particularly thorny issue for the Wide Area Network (WAN). The idea that the network architecture as designed cannot meet the needs of tomorrow is the cause of much discussion, anxiety and in some cases, gnashing of teeth. However, the reality is that the rate of change of applications and ways the WAN is utilized is accelerating, and the methods of designing, testing, implementing and troubleshooting of today are not keeping pace. In addition, traditional services offered throughout the WAN only offer a partial view of the capabilities of what may be available.
Network Operations Centers can be somber places. I’ve seen quite a few during my last two decades in technology. To monitor and manage a vast network is equal parts nerve racking and mind numbing boredom as you stare at wall-to-wall screens, waiting for an alarm to go off.
Over the years, networks have grown to be more and more complex because there are so many interdependent factors that affect their behavior. These factors include traffic flows, network typologies, network protocols, hardware, software, and most importantly, the interactions among them.
More frightening, the steps required to do these very complex network-wide changes are in many cases still manual. In most enterprises this is done box-by-box one at a time – both time consuming and error prone. On top of that you’ve got to make sure that you’ve calculated for variance with lots of different flavors of swtiches and routers in the field. For example, to leverage a powerful feature such as Performance Routing (PfR), which can double your capacity, each WAN router must be properly configured and the overall WAN architecture adapted to the applications requirements. This can take many man-hours to implement, troubleshoot and optimize – which explains why most IT organizations spend 80-90% on operations, leaving little time for much needed innovation. Add in security, QoS, and mission critical applications and within seconds you can see this akin to kicking a sleeping beast. Once we move to the massive number of devices that are expected for the Internet of Things (IoT), then it simply becomes an unsustainable exercise in failure. Read More »
New Year, New Challenges, New Successes:
SDN Bringing Agility, Security and TCO to Campus and Branch Networks
Before recently taking on a new role as Cisco’s vice president and general manager of Software-Defined Network (SDN) with the enterprise networking group, I served as the vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Unified Access portfolio and led the expansion of the Catalyst 2k, 3k and 4k series product line, which has seen a lot of growth and developed a strong customer base over the past couple of years. Cisco invests heavily in R&D for these products, and has introduced many innovations improving security, application visibility/control, energy savings and converged wired and wireless infrastructure over the past few years.
But as I shifted into my new role and looked back at some of the new Unified Access solutions we introduced alongside our system architecture, I saw a curious disconnect: in some cases, it was getting more difficult for our customers to quickly take advantage of our new innovations.
At Cisco, we design products to make customers’ lives easier and more productive. Not to gather dust because they’re too hard to figure out!