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SBA for Government? – Yes, there’s an App for that!

June 9, 2011 at 9:22 am PST

It seems that every time I talk to customers and partners lately they want to know more about Smart Business Architectures.

I think we all agree that Networking has become quite complicated these days with many choices to be made.  Since most organizations rely on the network for every aspect of their business today, they need to provide an infrastructure that allows for anytime, anywhere, anything and anyone connectivity in a secure, reliable, and seamless fashion.

Poor choices can be extremely costly, and I’ve seen recent examples of customers having deployed the wrong technology (like GPON in a Campus environment) only to find that they were unable to provide the necessary Network services to support the applications that their customers demand.  This is not good for one’s career, nor the organizations budget when a forklift replacement of the network must be done.

Building and maintaining a network is complicated problem that can only be addressed properly with “a plan” or in network terminology, an “Architecture”.

The good news is that you don’t have to start from scratch.  Cisco has already done much of the baseline work for you with a number of very well written documents on the Smart Business Architecture (SBA) site.  Cisco has made a healthy investment in SBA to ensure our customers and partners are successful.

The SBA guides are very prescriptive and based on use cases from customers and partners and have been assembled and tested in our lab.  The target level of expertise is the CCNA/CCNP level engineer so you don’t have to keep a staff of CCIE’s to run your network, especially in the mid-size business environment where this is not a very cost effective approach.

If you’d like more detail, check out my talk on the subject recently at the Government Solutions Forum.

And oh by the way, yes there’s no an App on the Apple Store for “Cisco SBA”.  All you need is your CCO password to access all of the documents that are currently available.

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Your Brain, Adaptation, and SBA

I’ve been in the wireless industry a long time. Like a really long time, ie., twenty years or so. Hard for me to believe, but there it is. It’s been a heck of a great ride for me and my family. One of the most memorable experiences I had was to spend half of a day discussing the relationship between string theory and wireless propagation with a small group of physicists.

That discussion has continued on in one form or another for some years now. Though I don’t engineer many wireless systems these days, I still enjoy a hearty discussion on RF theory about as much as I ever did. One of the current threads in that discussion pertains to complex adaptive systems (CAS). The ultimate complex adaptive system is the human brain. Definitely recommend you read an incredible book called, “The Shallows” by Nicholas Carr which illuminates how our brains are affected by the time we spend online. Fascinating.

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Take the SBA-Train

As someone who grew up riding the Boston MBTA, and later the New York City subway system, I have an affection for that gritty form of public transit. So I loved the New York Times article from some weeks ago that detailed the results of the city’s subway survey. My favorite quote:  “Please.  I’ve lived in New York for 20 years — I’ve seen more bizarre things on the trains than I can remember.  That’s why we live here.” 

When you zoom out from that passenger experience, though, there’s a lot that goes into building a subway system to carry all that humanity. Just look at this site dedicated to dreaming up a better MBTA for Boston. Clearly people rely on subway systems for different things and have very subjective needs when it comes to the design of the overall system. And that’s why Cisco’s new Smart Business Architecture (SBA) subway system is so cool. It’s designed to help you navigate easily from Point A to Point B as you move through the modules that help you turn a Borderless Network Architecture into a reality.

Each module—or subway stop—represents a prescriptive, step-by-step guide for a specific aspect of the Borderless Network Architecture. And when you zoom in to explore that guide, you find a clear point of orientation.

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Blueprints for designing and deploying

January 10, 2011 at 7:31 am PST

Recently, we posted a bunch of new material in the Smart Business Architecture of Design Zone. Cisco Smart Business Architecture (SBA) for Midsize Networks and Enterprises offers a blueprint for designing and deploying a full-service, comprehensive network. SBA delivers prescriptive network design and deployment best practices for organizations with 100 to 10,000 connected users.

It’s really worth a look. Here’s a comment one customer posted on the main page:

Really brilliant document, I’ve already asked the … support community for this kind of architecture support document and it was exactly what I was thinking.

For me it’s the best way to have people adopt Cisco technology: help them to master it by  being able to do complex things in simple guided steps.

We’ve supplemented the new content with an interactive “subway map” flash widget that you can launch from that page.  I don’t always like online interactive maps, but this subway map really gives a nice overview of the different guides available and explains when to use what. Cisco’s Linda Beaton has just posted a great backgrounder on the “train” (or “subway stop”) concept. You launch it from the “Getting Started” button on the Smart Business Architecture page.

There’s also a more traditional list of the documents. Let us know what you think.

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What’s more important—time or money? What if you didn’t have to choose?

I was chatting with a colleague recently who was recounting her experience as a first-year engineer just out of school. It was a role that required designing and troubleshooting complicated networks—MPLS or ATM with intricate VPI/VCIs. Not being a technical person, the acronyms alone seemed daunting to me. But what became painfully obvious was the time and resource drain that is inherent when supporting a vast number of customers with needs that change on an ongoing basis. Without a standardized reference or blueprint, they were forced each time to create—and re-create—the wheel, over and over. It was clearly a problem in need of a solution—and an architectural one at that.

At Cisco, we’ve been talking about how Borderless Networks can transform your business—from the IT management side of things, and from the end-user experience perspective. But what helps make that a reality is the underlying architectural blueprint.

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