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The Evolution of Branch Connectivity

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the chance to come up from my rabbit hole of deployment projects and catch up on the tech news. In particular, the announcement at Interop New York where Cisco announced the new ISR 4400 family of routers along with a few other articles got me to thinking about how far branch office connectivity has come in the past decade or so and to a question: is one method of branch connectivity better than another?

In the Beginning…

In the past decade or so we have seen substantial change in how we connect to the internet and how fast we do so. Early on (circa early 2000s) the internet was fairly flat. Real time voice and video were still a thing of science fiction. In the enterprise we connected remote offices back to the central office via leased lines over a frame relay network. T1s were considered good and if you had a DS-3 link you must have been in a big IT shop. Compute services were limited to corporate email (Outlook/Exchange were the new kids on the block) and client/server based systems. Read More »

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Unlock the Hidden Capabilities Your Cisco Integrated Services Routers

If you have a Cisco Integrated Services Router (ISR) in your branch – which most companies do – you won’t want to miss the April 23rdwebinar on hidden capabilities of the ISR.

These routers are the Swiss army knife of networking, and come loaded with so many features that it is almost impossible to know all of them. I cannot count the number of times I found myself saying “wow, I didn’t even know that the ISR can do that.” This is because IOS is a very mature operating system with about 30 years of customer experience and feature enhancements. I don’t think that there is any other company in the world that can say that they have 30 years of customer experience in this field.

Routing has evolved tremendously over those years. We’ve moved from access routing to full integrated services to an all-in-one converged branch solution. Our leadership in this space was recognized just two weeks ago, when a new Cisco routing solution won the Best of Interop for Networking. Read More »

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What the Heck is a Service Container?

Virtualizing services within the network

Picture1When we launched the new ISR 4451-X at Cisco Live a few months back, one of the Big New Things we talked about was the Service Container architecture.  Unless you were paying close attention to the 4451-X, you might have missed that whole thing.  So what the heck is a Service Container?

To put it simply, a Service Container is a virtual machine running within the network itself.  Instead of your typical server virtual machine, these VMs can be used to enhance the capabilities of the underlying network itself.  Service Containers can add additional services, such as WAN Optimization, to the network.  They can also enhance the capabilities of network devices by adding things like new programmable interfaces to the network.  In some cases they can even be used to add impressive capabilities to the network from trusted third party developers.

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Enterprise Networks At CiscoLive Video Interviews Continued!

Hi All!  For this video my trusty film crew and I are still here in Orlando for CiscoLive 2013 and got in some great interviews!  In this episode I learn about Smart Connected Vehicles (and why you shouldn’t hack them),  meet with Chris Tillett (@christillett) of Halifax Media Group and find out why the new Cisco ISR 4451-X is the router for him, I get to sit in and program the Delorean time machine we had in our booth, and JOHN CHAMBERS GIVES ME AND MY TRUSTY FILM CREW A THUMBS UP.  Yes, that needed all caps, because it is awesome and I didn’t even realize it until the episode was posted!  Also, I tested the tensile strength of the CiscoLive sign.

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Introducing An Entirely New Direction in Branch Offices

Introducing 4451-X Frickin Awesome 400Thinking about remote site networks in a totally new way.

This week Cisco announced a new member of the Integrated Services Router family.  The ISR 4451-X might not seem that unique at first glance.  Here’s Cisco releasing another new router that adds to their already extensive branch router portfolio – the ISR G2.  However, the newest ISR really is a #GameChanger when it comes to building a modern, future-proof network designed with business critical applications in mind.

That isn’t just marketing fluff in this case.  The ISR 4451-X was designed from the ground up with rich network services and application delivery in mind.  It really is the first platform conceived and built from the very beginning with a laser focus on application experience in a remote branch office.  Maybe we even need a new name because in some ways it really is changing what it means to be a “router.”

The Concept

When we started thinking about designing a new high-end branch router, several things were happening simultaneously with our large Enterprise customers.  First, the role of applications was changing in the network.  With modern business-critical applications being delivered across the wide-area network are now critical for keeping the front doors open, the network is now more critical than ever to businesses of all types. Read More »

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