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The other side of the jack: Is your Enterprise Network enterprise ready?

“Give me the best servers you have”, they said.

“Give me the best computers you have”, they said.

“Give me more mobile devices”, they said.

“Give me the network required to use all these things”, they (almost) never said.

The enterprise network is still very much considered to be just that hole in the wall next to the electricity outlet. It used to be that you came to work and moved the mouse to wake the computer. Later you plugged your laptop into that other weird looking jack labeled Read More »

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Third Time’s A Charm: Cisco is a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure Again!

Gartner has released their 2014 Magic Quadrant for Wired and Wireless LAN Infrastructure.  For the 3rd year in a row, Cisco is recognized as a leader in both vision and execution.  We believe this Gartner recognition is validation of Cisco strategy and investments for unified access, policy management and cloud managed solutions.

Cisco’s position in the Wired and Wireless Gartner MQs has been consistent over the past 3 years as the market landscape has shifted we believe validating our commitment to meeting shifting customer priorities and requirements.

Qartner Magic Quadrant 2014
This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The complimentary copy of the Gartner document is available to view here.

The 2014 Gartner Magic Quadrant for the Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure (Authors: Tim Zimmerman, Andrew Lerner, Bill Menezes; Published 26th June 2014) reflects the evolution from prior years and highlights what customers are looking for:

With limited growth in IT resources, administrators require one network management application, one access security solution, one guest access application or one policy enforcement solution with the flexibility to be deployed in a public cloud, private cloud or on-premises. This integration reduces the costs associated with the upfront capital expense of multiple network service applications each dedicated to either the wired infrastructure or the wireless or cloud components. This savings is also extended to the ongoing software maintenance costs of all access layer management, security and policy enforcement components.”

What Does Being a Leader Mean?  Read on for the full story Read More »

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Score for IT this World Cup

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two weeks, you know that the FIFA World Cup is in full swing. Stakes are higher than ever as we move into the semi-finals with more and more people tuning in to cheer on their favorite futbol teams. In fact, FIFA just released a media release yesterday about how this year’s 2014 FIFA World Cup™ has set new records for streaming data traffic around the world. My colleague Ido blogged about IWAN helping with the bandwidth overload caused by the FIFA World Cup last week, so let’s dive deeper and talk about video and high density.

There is no denying it: your employees and customers are streaming video. While the volume of that streaming dramatically peaks around game times during the World Cup, it should be no surprise that today, mobile applications, largely video, are increasing mobile traffic across networks. That’s straight forward: apps + video = bandwidth drain. Combine that with the fact that people are touting multiple devices--think a laptop and a smartphone, maybe a tablet, too. This means high density--lots of clients and devices on a single network. These circumstances trigger three potential yellow cards to cross an IT person’s mind – let’s see how we can avoid them.

YELLOW CARD #1: Rich Media Optimization

As an end-user, the common expectation is that I should get the same crisp, clear, rich  media or video experience across all platforms—I don’t care if it’s my phone, my tablet or my laptop: make it high definition. This is harder said than done.

It is not easy to provide the same rich media experience across wired and wireless devices. Traffic from wireless devices has to travel all the way back to the controller in a data center and then back to an access switch before reaching its destination. It’s called the hairpin effect. The result is that video over Wi-Fi could look grainy. That won’t do for the current generation of high definition junkies. Read More »

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You Can Observe A Lot By Watching.

July 4, 2014 at 9:46 am PST
Usability Testing at CiscoLive!

Usability testing a support mobile page at the NetVet lounge with NetVet Mike Williams.

Recently at CiscoLive!, we spent a full week with customers and partners doing in-detail usability tests of Cisco.com and some of our mobile sites and apps. This is one of the main methods we use to make our web and mobile easier.

What’s a usability test? Something different than you might think. While you’ve probably heard of other research techniques like focus groups and surveys, usability tests and listening labs are a way for us to learn through observing how people use our sites: We have someone sit down in front of the screen and ask them to do a task that they would in their real work day. This could be solving a support question, researching a new product, finding the right download, investigating a new API, or any number of other things.

Here’s the difference between a usability test vs. a focus group or survey: In a focus group, a facilitator often throws out an idea or scenario and gets a group of people to comment on it. The people in the room will tell you what they might like… they will build on others comments… they may give you some great ideas! But, you won’t really be learning by observing. You won’t understand the kinds of things they will actually do in real life, because you’re asking them what they think they would do. You aren’t observing.

But when we observe people using our mobile apps or web sites, we can see lots of things. For instance:

  • We can see the areas that trip them up (even if they report to us that the experience is just fine)
  • We can see the areas where they’re getting the wrong result (even if they think they’re getting the right one).
  • Or sometimes even technical problems that we see and can troubleshoot, but they can’t.

We recommend running usability tests or listening labs at multiple stages for major projects:

  • At the beginning of the project – when you want to understand current state and also look at how competitive or best practice sites and apps are doing.
  • In the middle – while you’re still developing, and direct observation and feedback can make a huge difference
  • Before release – so you can catch any last-minute problems
  • After release – because sometimes when outside factors and environments affect the app or web experience in way you can’t expect (for instance, how and whether people can find your site topic on Google or other search engines, and how they interact with the results).

Even though this sounds like a lot of testing, there are some new techniques you can use to get real user feedback very quickly – within hours or days. I’ll talk about that in a future post.

Meanwhile, keep testing. And, remember baseball legend Yogi Berra, who said:

“You can observe a lot by watching!”

Yogi Berra

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Staying Connected at Northern Kentucky University

July 3, 2014 at 9:07 am PST

Northern Kentucky University is among the fastest growing universities in Kentucky. It hosts over 15,000 students with about 13,000 undergraduate and 2,000 graduate students. The goal of the wireless program at NKU is to provide secure, robust and ubiquitous wireless access throughout the campus, both indoors and outdoors. This ensures that students always stay connected and feel at home. The classrooms are equipped with smart technology to ensure that the teachers can benefit from technology when collaborating with students. The IT team has blanketed the libraries, the classrooms, the dorm-rooms as well as the outdoor areas with Wi-Fi. In the previous blog in 2012, we described how the Cisco 7.5 release allows networks to recover with no client re-authentication in the rare event of your primarily wireless LAN controller goes down.

nku1

At a Glance:

Located in: the Highland Heights Kentucky

Number of students: 15,000 of which about 2000 stay in residence halls

Number of teachers/staff: 2000

# WLAN clients: Approximately 8500 concurrent clients

Access-Point Model and Units:  1200 units of AP models including AP702W, 3502, 3602, 3702, 1550 and a few older Access Points which are being phased out

Controller Model and Units: 2 Pairs of WiSM2 operating in 7.6.120.0

Switch Models: Various models 2960, 3650, 3850, 3750X and 6500

Prime Infrastructure: 1.4.2

Mobility Services Engine: 7.6

 Deployment Details: We talked to Christopher Johnson, the Senior Infrastructure Systems Analyst II at Northern Kentucky University to capture some of his thoughts around their choice of this solution and the associated benefits. Read More »

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