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Shining a New Light on Shadow IT

More people than ever are talking about “shadow IT” nowadays.  As the name implies, it’s mysterious, perhaps even malevolent by some people’s standards.  From a traditional IT vantage point, this negative view may be somewhat justified given the risks it creates around security, compliance, productivity, and technology investment.

But let’s look at it from another perspective. Shadow IT is on the rise because more people outside of IT are gaining awareness and access to technology, and harnessing it as a business differentiator. More importantly, many of these people are business leaders with growing budgets that align to their priorities. Here’s how much technology budget growth business leaders expect in the next year:

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Over the next year how will your group’s technology budget change 

Source: Cisco Business and IT Priority Survey results Read More »

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IWAN Wed: What is Intelligent WAN?

Imagine that you have several branch offices that are using WAN demanding applications like Salesforce.com, Office 365, Virtual Desktops, Video Teleconferencing and more.  You are using those expensive MPLS/VPN WAN connections as you don’t want to risk it and probably because when you started to work there it was already there and … why mess around with something that is working, right?  Normally I would agree with that but when IT budgets are shrinking and the network needs to step up and support those business critical apps, there is no other way but to innovate.

At any given time your network carries information from LAN to WAN and vice versa, some is important and some is less important. In many cases as a network admin you don’t have the visibility to distinguish between them, so what do you do when those critical apps are starting to act up? Usually the answer will be to buy more WAN bandwidth and that will give the apps and the user experience behind them some breathing space. But all you’re doing is buying time.  Buying time never solves the problem because you will need to treat the symptoms again in a few weeks or months.

However, you can solve the problem and not just treat the symptoms using Cisco Intelligent WAN or IWAN for short.

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Delivering Application Optimization for Office 365

We in IT are faced with many challenges from our end users.  From IT costs to application performance, while always keeping an eye on our network security posture.  This reminds me of a sign on the wall of my auto mechanic’s shop: Good, Fast, Low-cost. I was always told I am allowed to pick only two.  I would of course question him, “why cant I have something with high quality, on time, and within budget?”  This always made him smile, but he still told me I could only pick two.

So back to our IT challenges: Cost, Performance, and Security. Application performance is something we can all see, feel and touch. When thinking about performance, we need to also consider where these applications are coming from.  Looking at applications like Microsoft’s Office 365, we are seeing mission critical applications from outside our data centers being delivered as Software as a Service (SaaS) solution. Does this matter to our end users?  They sit at their PC’s, Tablets, Mac’s, etc. and know when something is not going fast enough.  Their expectations are growing; they always expect the best performance. If they don’t feel their Outlook e-mail is opening fast enough or that the saving of their PowerPoint file is taking too long, they do not hesitate to let us know.  And oddly enough, everyone just assumes it is the network.  So not only do we need to think about our networks, but the Internet performance as well.

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IWAN Wed: How Glue Networks Improves the IWAN Experience with PfR

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.

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Enforcing Application SLAs over Hybrid Networks

In the world of IT, we drive toward operational consistency for greater efficiency and improved security. If everything runs the same across all our locations, it’s much easier to train staff and manage the network. However, operational consistency may not provide the flexibility IT needs to keep up with ever changing business priorities that require IT to open offices or roll out new applications faster. For example, if a business wants to open a new office in a developing region, standard carrier services like MPLS can take months to provision, and cripple productivity unless alternative services can be quickly deployed. Likewise, IT may need to suspend services like guest WiFi if they are unable to protect mission-critical applications.

Cisco Intelligent WAN (IWAN) is a solution that gives IT flexibility and control so they can quickly respond to new business requirements immediately. For example, IWAN allows IT the choice to run a hybrid network environment with consistent and easy-to-scale security, while providing IT control and automation capabilities to ensure the highest quality application experience for their users. Read More »

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