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Steps To Optimize Your Network – An Introduction

Harness the Power Infographic

Infographic: The Before and After of Using Optimization Services on a Network [Click to see full]

One of my passions in life is sailing, both cruising and racing.  There is nothing quite like the wind in your hair and the sun on your face to paint a perfect day.  The difference between a great day on the water and miserable one comes down to preparation.  Basic maintenance of the vessel, proactively checking the weather, wind, and tides, and understanding how to optimally operate the vessel for the best performance will enhance the experience.  It’s not something that one can fully master, and you will always be learning and striving towards perfection.  This is very true of my other passion, which is helping customers get optimal performance out of their networks.  Once again, success is all about preparation.

Over my career, I have been through more customers than I can count and have seen widely ranging degrees of success amongst these customers.  Why is it that some customers are extremely successful with no outages or performance issues whilst others seem to never be able to keep pace with outages and performance issues are a near daily occurrence?  Some deploy a new technology without a glitch while others dread the thought of adding new technologies to their network in fear of the potential impact to their business.

You need a holistic approach that takes into consideration all of the systems involved in a solution.  You can design and deploy the best voice/video solution but if the underlying network is not designed and configured to support this business service, it will not likely meet the performance requirements of the business. For example, imagine your business has the requirement to deliver a periodic streaming video broadcast from senior management to the employees of the company.  Your company consists of campuses globally along with remote and mobile workers.  So, you need to be able to stream across  your wired, wireless and VPN network to users both local and remote. This is where the role of architecture comes into play.

The importance of architecture is that it pulls together a complete holistic view of the business services and the requirements to effectively support them.  How much bandwidth is required, what is the tolerable round trip delay, tolerance for packet loss are all considerations that will go into building that strong foundation that is required for success.  In today’s world of BYOD, the expectation is that these services will be available and perform flawlessly over wired, wireless and VPN.

I set a goal to increase the speed performance of my sailboat and purchased brand new sails to reach this goal.  After installing the sails, it was clear that I had gained no additional speed.  After doing a bottoms-up assessment of the vessel,  I realized that the hull was covered with barnacles.  Without a clean hull, adding sails will not deliver the desired result.  Trying to deploy a business service, such as a voice or video solution, over a network that is not designed for it will also fail to deliver the desired.  Most problems with deploying advanced technologies lie within the foundational network rather than the advanced technologies themselves. Your network, like the hull of my boat, is the foundation of your business services.  If this is not solid, the chances are the higher level services that rely on this “foundation” will likely not delivery the desired results.  A holistic approach will take into consideration the business services that must run over the network and use this to build out an effective foundation.  Read this success story on how Ecobank deployed collaboration solutions based on a solid infrastructure.  You can also see how optimization has benefited other companies in this infographic.

Stay tuned for my next posts where I’ll cover proven strategies for optimizing your network.






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Real world ROI results with UCS servers – a detailed study at Loughborough University

March 25, 2013 at 4:35 am PST

I recently worked with Loughborough University on a financial impact study of their initial deployment of Cisco UCS. The study documents their findings of a dramatic improvement in IT efficiency, bearing out the advantages that attracted them to the UCS solution. Loughborough’s Customer Case Study has been revised with the results of this TCO study as well new details on the next stage of their deployment of Cisco Virtual Experience Infrastructure (VXI) Smart Solution.

We examined Loughborough’s projected growth rates and compared the continuation of their previous rack server environment against a UCS solution combined with an expansion of their virtualized environment. Server consolidation and reduced administrator workload contributed to exceptional results: a total savings of US$878,789 (40% OpEx and 60% CapEx) with a 225% ROI and 22% IRR. Compared to the previous environment, Loughborough’s UCS deployment will drive down cost in several key areas over the coming five years:

  • server hardware – 38%
  • switching infrastructure and cabling – 80%
  • power and cooling – 49%
  • new server provisioning – 79%
  • virtualization software – 39%

“When we compared the legacy server and network with one based on Cisco UCS, TCO effectively halves over a five-year investment lifecycle.”

Dr. Phil Richards, Director of IT, Loughborough University.

As a result of Cisco’s Unified Fabric approach, the study shows that Loughborough will need only six switches (three redundant pairs) to support their end state vs. 30 in their legacy environment and a corresponding reduction in cables from 646 to just 44.

These results are typical to what other customers achieve when they switch to UCS. See my first blog post, Yes, Cisco UCS servers are that good.

Would you like to learn more about how Cisco UCS can help you? There are more than 250 published datacenter case studies on Cisco.com. Additionally, there is a TCO/ROI tool that will allow you to compare your existing environment to a new UCS Solution. For a more in-depth TCO/ROI analysis, contact your Cisco partner.

Loughborough University TCO Study Waterfall

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Four Initiatives to Bridge the Collaboration Adoption Gap

November 2, 2012 at 8:33 am PST

In my previous post, I mentioned that I’d briefly describe four initiatives Cisco promotes to help customers bridge the adoption gap. Most of all, adoption needs to be factored in at all phases of the plan-manage-build collaboration investment lifecycle. The biggest mistake organizations can make is to treat adoption as an afterthought or process that naturally occurs without prompting when a collaboration solution goes live.

Bridging the adoption gap begins with lowering the barriers to customer investment in collaboration-focused IT services by expanding the role of “as-a-Service” collaboration consumption models. Here, cloud computing is the enabling technology, but beyond that, Read More »

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Collaboration Adoption is the “R” in ROI

October 23, 2012 at 8:50 am PST

I have often found it a little surprising that while we and customers expend considerable effort planning, building, and managing collaboration solutions, the process of their adoption by end-users can get lost in the proverbial shuffle. Adoption is a really important issue, because adoption is a controlling variable in the collaboration infrastructure investment equation. In other words, a collaboration infrastructure that operates at 80 percent of capacity is going to deliver four times the returns of one that runs at 20 percent of capacity.

The problem of suboptimal adoption goes deeper than the sinking feeling of paying to build and operate infrastructure that sits idle. It gets more serious when one considers that under-adoption means forgoing the positive benefits of collaboration. It’s not so much the money blown on unused equipment and services, but the opportunities missed to Read More »

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IT “Patients”

When you think of cloud technology and data center virtualization, you likely think of big corporations managing their data centers and IT infrastructure to drive business forward. But that’s not the only sector benefiting from the cloud. The healthcare industry is confirming that virtualization is an important factor in the well-being of people -- technology being used to help save lives, not just increase revenue.

Updating an IT infrastructure with cloud enablement is impacting the medical world in imperative ways. Through the cloud, clinicians are able to access medical records and information from a multitude of devices, and from anywhere. Never being out-of-range in an emergency situation is a huge step for healthcare. It means less physical hardware, easier access, shared information, and better service for the patient.

Consider St. George’s Healthcare NHS Trust, a leading healthcare provider. After experiencing difficulties in accessing information and maxing out resources, St. George’s made the move to Unified Communications. Doctors and nurses are now able to retrieve information from the device of their choice, enabling quicker response to patients’ needs, all while meeting new government regulations and controlling their budget.

Other examples include Sparrow Health, who strived to be a national leader in quality and patient experience. With virtualization and cloud-based applications, Sparrow achieved a medical-grade network that solved the problems of their former, unreliable IT system. And Seattle Children’s Hospital severely cut back on wasted time in accessing information and managing their systems by bringing nearly 400 servers and 5500 workstations under central management using virtualization. Likewise, Cook County Health and Concentra are all healthcare providers who reaped the benefits of a virtualized, unified network.

For these profiles and more information on utilizing the cloud to increase ROI and improve TCO, visit UnleashingIT.com.

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