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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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IWAN Wed: Get 2X Bandwidth with PfR

AN33345As part of our IWAN series, I wanted to provide a deeper dive into PfR. Why PfR? It is a fundamental feature that helps customers protect critical apps while increasing bandwidth utilization. I think it is fair to say, every organization can benefit tremendously from this powerful capability.

PfR or Performance Routing is a feature that complements traditional IP routing protocols by adding application intelligence when making routing decisions. Why do we need application intelligence? Routers forward data packets based on their routing tables which are built using dynamic routing protocols such as RIP and OSPF to calculate the shortest path to the destination for the data packets. RIP and OSPF do not look into data packets to determine the type of application they belong to when making routing decisions. As a result if the application is time sensitive like voice over IP (VOIP) or bandwidth intensive like a file backup data packets are treated with the same priority and will be sent over the same route until they reach their destination. This can create problems if you have a single WAN link since a file backup could consume all bandwidth preventing voice packets from passing in a timely manner and impacting the quality of the voice call. QoS or Quality of Service can help to prioritize data on a single link but you may ultimately need more bandwidth.

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IWAN Starter Kit and CiscoChampions

Over the weekend I had a brief twitter chat with someone who mentioned he had been wondering ‘what the heck is IWAN?’ (I’m paraphrasing here) and hadn’t been able to find anything on it.  Besides asking the obvious -- why he hadn’t asked me or @CiscoEnterprise about it -- I thought I’d put together a brief on IWAN.  Here, you’ll find the top 7 items to get you started learning about IWAN.  Also, just wanted to put in a plug for Cisco Champions for Enterprise Networks - you can still nominate yourself or a colleague and one of the perks is that we’ll be making sure to do briefs and/or deep-dives on our solutions with Cisco Champions so you’re in the know.

First, what is the “I” in IWAN? Intelligent.  (The I doesn’t refer to “i” as the Pods, Pads, and Phones and should be written upper case, not lower.) We’re calling the capability to use both internet and MPLS for your WAN as Intelligent WAN (IWAN).  This idea comes as a result of the confluence of the forces hitting *right now* you’ve probably already heard about that I’ll may over simplify.  Skip to the pretty list if need be or check out this intro to the CVDs that has 5 great use cases for IWAN on pages 2 and 3. Read More »

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UCS E-Series: The Survivability Guide | Inside the Branch

Free Cisco learningIt goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway): reliability is important, as well as ensuring that you have a backup plan to continue that reliability. Just yesterday as I was embarking on my 50-mile commute into the office, I discovered that one of my car tires was completely flat. A spare tire, a standard feature in most cars here in the States, came to the rescue. Knowing how to change the tire myself, now that’s a different story…

In all seriousness, reliability and high availability are especially critical when it comes to keeping your business – including your branch locations – up and running. After all, downtime has disastrous consequences on your day-to-day operations, productivity, customer experience, and revenue. Imagine you’re in a retail environment and the WAN goes down, even for 10 minutes: the Point of Sale (POS) system is kaput, thus transactions are halted, customers are upset, and you’ve just lost thousands of dollars or more in revenue!

So what happens if your server, WAN, or worse, total system, fails? Read More »

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UCS E-Series: A Platform for Innovation | Inside the Branch

We’re in November now, so of course it’s getting chilly outside -- even here in California! This means the holidays are right around the corner and retailers are gearing up for their busiest time of year. A growing trend these days is that more than half of holiday shoppers with smartphones plan to use these devices while shopping (53.8%, National Retail Federation). What better motivation for retailers to increase sales in all of their stores this season than by enhancing customers’ shopping experience with something like Facebook?

On the other side of town unfortunately, the holiday season goes hand-in-hand with the sniffling and coughing brought on by the winter cold and flu season. As usual, doctors will expect an influx of patients in their offices in the coming months. IT staff at hospitals need to prepare for the increased medical data traversing through the network and beyond.

Cisco UCS E-series on the ISR-AX is a consolidated solution in a single platform. With this solution, retailers can virtualize and host POS, video surveillance, and other applications.  Doctors in medical offices of any size can focus on taking care of their patients rather than worry about the network slowing them down.

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