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Fast IT Workshop #1: Beyond SDN _ Expanding the Conversation

As business leaders navigate an increasingly complex world of connections, they need IT to dynamically respond to their needs. This four-part blog series explores how responsive and programmable infrastructure helps IT leaders succeed. Today’s post highlights how Fast IT, a new model of IT, encompasses a broader focus of next-generation infrastructure and how it can drive business value.

To read the second post in this series by Jim Grubb which discusses a roadmap to adopt a Fast IT model, click here. To read the third post in this series by Doug Webster which highlights how service providers specifically stand to benefit from Fast IT, click here. To read the fourth and final post in this series by Jeff Reed which explores how a Fast IT model can mitigate infrastructure challenges, click here.

Lately, there has been a lot of chatter around what software-defined networking (SDN) really is. Initially, SDN was a term used to explain the concept of splitting the forwarding plane from the control plane with the added benefit of automation and orchestration. However, recently SDN has become a “buzzword” attached to products that vendors are trying to sell as explained by Network Computing’s Tom Hollingsworth.

Critics of SDN say that it means too many things to too many different people, making what was once network architecture into a philosophy. This was affirmed by Colin Bannon, Chief Architect and CTO, British Telecom, as heard in this recording of the “Business Implications of Software-Defined Networking” panel discussion at Cisco Live Milan in January. During the panel, he suggested SDN means one of three things:

  1. Centralized control which is especially popular with data center,
  2. Centralized control but with lots of distributed intelligence, or
  3. A software programmability into existing infrastructure, meaning more of an orchestration set.

Tim Zimmerman, Research Vice President, Gartner, echoed this sentiment at this same SDN panel: “SDN tends to have a meaning for everybody. It’s not always the same meaning for each person who asks the question.” He added, “We have to worry a little about using it to mean everything. I encourage people to ask the additional questions to ensure they’re getting the right answers when we explore what SDN means to them.”

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At Cisco, we know that the old way of doing things won’t work anymore and SDN seems to solve many issues organizations face today with programmability. However, we want to expand the conversation beyond just SDN to include application-centricity, automation, virtualization, and orchestration. We’ve labeled these types of capabilities Fast IT. Fast IT is a new model for IT with a drive for less complexity, more agility, and comprehensive security. With the majority of IT budgets tied up in manual processes, IT struggles to free up resources needed to deliver innovative technology services to the business. IT must deliver value faster, and be more agile and less complex in responding to changing business needs. IT must enable the business to innovate and achieve business outcomes faster through a simple, smart and secure IT model.

So, what do IT leaders need to do?

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TU Darmstadt Rolls Out Cisco Unified Access to Prepare for 802.11ac

May 27, 2014 at 11:31 am PST

Technische Universität Darmstadt, usually known as TU Darmstadt is a research university based in Germany. It was founded in 1877 and over the last 137 years has grown to be among the largest and most prestigious public universities in Germany serving over 25,000 students per year. It is the alma-mater to many world-wide leaders from Nobel prize winners, a CEO of a fortune 500 company, a president of a country and multiple World Robocup champions.

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No wonder, they have a reference from Albert Einstein!

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In 2009 TU Darmstadt embraced BYOD with the 5508 Series Controller managing the 1140 802.11n Access Points. Recently we talked to Thomas Vogel, the Head of Network Group and Andreas Liebe, the Network Services Manager who have over 15 years of experience managing WLAN environments. In this blog, we will describe some of the details of WLAN deployments using the 3850 Series Switch and the 5760 Series Wireless LAN Controller to address the new requirements in the school environment. Read More »

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School Board of Sarasota County Prepares WLAN for 802.11ac

May 16, 2014 at 9:30 am PST

Sarasota County Schools includes 24 Elementary Schools, 9 Middle Schools, 8 High Schools and various Technical and various Special Centers. It houses about 40,000 students in about 250 buildings. The Sarasota School IT Team believes in using the best-in-class technologies to provide the optimal connected experience for students, faculty, staff and guests.

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, we described how Bowdoin and the Pinellas County have embraced the IOS based 5760 Series controllers. 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 xx about the WLAN deployment itself.

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How IT Leaders Can Embrace the Change that Comes with Network Programmability

The programming of network resources is not just a trend, but also a way to future-proof IT and business needs. This blog series examines how infrastructure programmability is providing a faster time to competitive advantage and highlights the differences between programmable infrastructure and traditional infrastructure, and what programmability means for your entire IT infrastructure.

To read the first post in this series that defines infrastructure programmability, click here.

To read the second post in this series that discusses benefits of network programmability, click here.

According to a recent Network Computing article, changes in network virtualization (overlaying virtual networks over a physical infrastructure) and network programmability (provisioning and controlling its behavior) are causing some to wonder what’s in store for the networking profession.

These changes mean that our skill sets will evolve and our jobs will get more interesting. As the need to build more agility into IT systems becomes more urgent, we are looking for ways to reduce complexity, drive simplification and reduce costs to invest in new initiatives that are critical to the business. We must free up resources so that IT can build new capabilities and provide faster time to new business competitiveness. How can we do this? A new model for IT – one that is simple, smart and secure.

 The programming of network resources is not just a trend, but also a way to future-proof IT and business needs.  View Executive Perspectives.

The programming of network resources is not just a trend, but also a way to future-proof IT and business needs. View Executive Perspectives.

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Automatic Software Delivery now available on the Cisco Small Business RV215W VPN Router

May 13, 2014 at 4:15 pm PST

You may not realize this, but Cisco has a thriving business building and selling networking products specifically designed for Small Businesses. Unfortunately, we know dealing with Cisco can sometimes be challenging for some smaller customers, a good example of this is managing software. Sometimes, it can be quite challenging to finding out whether equipment is running the latest software, and if not, how to get the latest software.

We recently announced a new feature called Automatic Service Delivery (ASD) on the RV215W, a wireless-n VPN Router that is in the Cisco Small Business Routing Portfolio.

The Automated Software Delivery service allows network devices such as the Cisco RV215W router or management tools such as Cisco FindIT to automatically retrieve software release information and software images from the cisco.com software library. This means that the user can be notified when a new software image is available, and they can obtain that software at the click of a button, rather than having to find their way through the thousands of files in the software library. If the user so chooses, a device can even automatically update itself, thereby ensuring the network is always running the most current versions of software.

This work was completed by our Smart Web Technology Group (SWTG). The API they developed enables client applications to retrieve vital software release and image information including release note, field notices and PSIRT information.

In order to gain access to this new feature, simply download the latest RV215W firmware form the RV215W product page and enable automatic updates on the Administration > Firmware/Language Upgrade page.

Cisco RV Series_RV215W VPN Firewall

Look for more RV Series Models to get this free ASD Service.

So to wrap this up, we know Cisco’s Small Business customers face so many challenges and demands on their time, the Automated Software Delivery service is a great tool that helps make their job just that little bit easier.

Thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to hang out with us.

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