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Going Mobile? Get Secure.

There is no turning back from the mobile trend. With more devices comes the insatiable hunger for bandwidth. After devices are connected to the network, IT must make sure each is secured and provisioned. Creativity is needed to handle these high-density environments and enforce proper policies for mobile security, while juggling other responsibilities for the business. That complexity can be a huge headache. IT needs tools that can help make the whole process simple and fast.

Enter Cisco’s secure enterprise mobility solutions. Cisco’s 802.11ac (the latest Wi-Fi standard that enables more devices and bandwidth), Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE), and Cisco TrustSec solutions join forces to simplify the high-density, secure mobility experience.

Join us for an engaging webcast on March 5 and learn how this combined Cisco solution can relieve your mobile device management and security headaches. Hear how Erickson Living, a trusted name in retirement communities known for innovative approaches to supporting resident needs, relied on this Cisco solution to provide high-quality, secure connectivity and a simple user experience.

Register today to learn how Erickson was able to level up to 802.11ac with heavy considerations for mobile security and how Cisco provided the tools to easily manage always-on, secure wireless access.

Get your questions answered with live Q&A. You will not want to miss this webcast. Register here.

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How Next Generation WLAN Optimizes RoboCup at Bowdoin College

February 19, 2014 at 6:00 am PST

Bowdoin College is a liberal arts college based in the town of Brunswick, Maine. It houses 1839 students in about 100 buildings and offers 33 different majors and 4 minors. The Bowdoin IT Team are pioneering in nature as would be expected from the state whose motto, “Dirigo”, translates to “I lead”; adopting bleeding-edge best-in-class technologies to provide the optimal connected experience for students, faculty, staff and guests. This is counter-balanced with pragmatism in phasing the roll-out of these services.

This next generation pervasive WLAN network enables students to collaborate with each other anywhere on the campus and with the teachers in the classroom. In the previous blog in 2012, we described how Bowdoin upgraded to 3602 Access Points and used the innovative CleanAir technology tie-in with Event Driven Radio Resource Monitoring to optimize WLAN coverage. They also adopted the Cisco Prime and ISE 1.2 for manageability and consistent wired-wireless Policy respectively. In this blog, we will cover more details about the recent upgrade of the Wireless LAN Controller from the previous model WiSM to the new model 5760 and describe highlights of our conversation with Jason and Trevor about the WLAN deployment itself.

bowdoin1 Read More »

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Safety first, business second, security none?

Based on 25 years of professional experience in various businesses around the globe, I can say that many industry verticals have a pretty good state of safety culture as it relates to the health and safety of their employees.  This is especially true for companies involved in high-risk businesses such as oil and gas, (nuclear) energy, manufacturing, chemicals, food processing, and so on.  In such industries, it is pretty clear that there is a risk that something may blow up, hurt, or even kill people.

However, it seems that the next big driver for them is business alone, and they are not as focused on information or IT security when it comes to the logic side of security like bits and bytes, document handling of confidential information, and similar subjects.  This is in stark contrast to their keen attention to physical safety and security issues.

It would seem intuitive that any organization with  a commitment to safety by counting (and incentivizing) the hours (days, weeks, months, …) of safety-incident-free time should also be easy to convince that taking a similar approach to information security would be a good thing. But it is not that easy.  Operations in these businesses are very physical, so it is not really in the mind-set of a rig guy or gal, a welder, a component mixer, machine operator, or similar, that another devastating incident (attack) could happen from “within” the system(s), by a human adversary committed to do harm in the interest of their nation state or paying agent.  All those systems in the above mentioned industries that are working at the process level (sensors/actuators, process control, SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) are designed for efficient and effective, good performing, and reliable operation, but they were not really designed and built to resist logic attacks from a human smart guy who can outsmart almost every defense.

In industrial networks, spanning the areas of instrumentation, control bus, operations, business, or enterprise, the often cited Purdue reference model that provides for several “levels” or “zones” of abstraction and segregation can be used.  A really good introduction can be found in the Secure Data Transfer Guidance for Industrial Control and SCADA Systems.

The main security points to address are:

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Integration and Customization in Manufacturing: Some Exciting Trends

Recently I wrote about a few real life examples of IDC Manufacturing Insights 2014 Predictions: Worldwide Manufacturing and their Top 10 predictions in two parts.  They can be found: Part 1 and Part 2.  I wanted to continue with this and wrap up the discussions with some additional examples.   Hopefully, this helps illustrate what is already happening today to help you see some real life examples that are already taking place.

IDC wrote about Product Lifecycle Management or PLM. Traditionally, this is something that has always been a standalone solution and not one that is integrated into the full product design process.  We are seeing an integration of this silo (as I mentioned in my first post on this series) into the product design earlier.  Not only are we seeing this in the design process but also in the actual manufacturing workflow and shop floor design as well.  When a change is made in the product it is quicker then ever before to make a change to the recipe or the manufacturing process with a ‘one click’ push to the operational side of the company.

This helps a company react to the changes that the customers are asking for and also is an incredibly quick way to start to integrate into the ‘mass customization’ that customers are asking for in many consumer products.  Customers want to be able to have a product built for them and for their specifications.  I have seen this happen with my son’s soccer cleats even.  We are now able to order his shoes online with his number on them and they arrive within a week.  While that is as simple as just adding a silk screen it is a great first step in the evolution of customization.  Another example is what Motorola does with the Moto X where you can order the phone to your custom color and options and they will deliver it to you as requested (and for an incredibly low price!). Ultimately this can be done because ever process and every mechanism on the processing line can be tracked and changed on the fly.  At Hannover Messe 2014 we will be part of the Factory 4.0 demonstration that will highlight this integration and customization on the show floor, stop by and see this in action.

The last 2 predictions from IDC are around the future of where we are going and the fact that the investments will be on the factories of the future.  We are already seeing more focus on the shop floor than in the ‘carpeted areas’ where IT had normally lived in within the manufacturing environment then in the past.  With more visibility in the shop floor, companies are able to improve their operations and ultimately drive towards more effective operations.

This trend is apparent with the fact that all of our business partners in this space have started to implement IP and Ethernet in their products.  We have slowly seen this adoption improve over the past 5-7 years and in the past 2 years it is exploding with the implementation that is happening with our customers.  Check out the Industrial IP Advantage as an area to start your own education in this incredibly exciting market.  And, we are here to help you drive towards your operational excellence goals.  Thanks for reading.

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Don’t Miss: [Webinar] Preparing K-12 Networks for Common Core Feb 5

If you’ve worked on a K-12 wireless network, you’ll know that one of the main customer careabouts is adapting to Common Core Standards. Online testing and BYOD places even higher demands on a high quality, high performing network. What exactly needs to be taken into consideration when designing these networks?

Join us tomorrow Wednesday, February 5 for a great, informational webinar packed with tips and tricks on how to design K-12 networks to optimize for Common Core. If you work in education IT or are a partner or network consultant that handles lots of K-12 school district deployments, this is the webcast for you. We’re starting at 10am PST and will run for about 45-60 minutes--and there’ll be a chance for you to ask questions directly to Cisco engineers.

Register here today, or read the full article: Is Your Network Ready for Common Core Standards?

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