About the ‘Cisco Insiders Series’ -- You won’t find product pre-announcements, insider trading tips or other things we can’t tell you about here! You will find, however, nuggets of information from provoking thought leaders that you would easily miss if we didn’t bring them to you here. Get a competitive blog-edge by reading this series!
I had the pleasure of meeting up with Guy Denis recently. He has been one of those instrumental in forming Cisco’s approach to Industrial Automation – both inside Cisco and for our customers. He’s been focused on how industrial processes can be improved with emerging technologies, and how the IT and plant-floor systems are converging to provide business and industrial process benefits.
Right now the Internet is abuzz about the Cloud and what it means for customers, suppliers, IT and Service Providers. A lot of buzz too about ‘The Internet of Things’, which talks about billions of devices on the network in a few years time. But you know me -- I wanted to move the conversation more to the factory. What’s clear is that the Cloud is not just for commercial and carpeted areas. It’s moving to the plant floor and beyond. Not just people and computers talking to each other, but machines talking to people and to other machines. So I wanted to learn more about how the network is evolving to cope with industrial automation and embrace the cloud from a machine perspective.
First off, I asked Guy what he thought of as the major trends emerging in industrial automation that he believed would impact the market for the next 10 years. Read More »
It is no longer a question of “if” your organization will face the new reality of mobile device proliferation, just an ever closer “how soon.” Users expect the network to enable trends like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and they aren’t just using smartphones and tablets to be more productive, they are falling in love with them. For businesses, simply allowing access isn’t the answer. It’s a question of relevant, secure access across the entire network, while protecting corporate assets and delivering an optimal user experience. Cisco focuses on exactly that -- how to enable a simple and secure mobility experience, with a consistent end-to-end architecture across wired, wireless and VPN access.
As a cornerstone of this wired-wireless access architecture, the Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) has already been helping customers like Whittier Union High School, San Antonio Water System and BlueWater Communications Group apply consistent security across the entire network through a centralized, single policy source.
Whittier Union High School District, a California high school district serving more than 13,600 students, was facing the challenge of mobile devices. Both faculty and students were bringing their personal devices on campus, many for educational apps and tools.
“It’s becoming increasingly critical to provide employees, students, and visitors access to our network and extensive educational resources given the growing expectations of our tech-savvy population,” stated Karen Yeh, Director of Information Technology, Whittier Union High School District.
Whittier needed a way to apply differentiated policy across their student and staff populations, somehow managing access for both personal and corporate devices, all without increasing IT resources. Karen called Cisco, and two weeks later her team was deploying the Cisco ISE, implementing a single point of security policy for their networks across wired, wireless and VPN. Considering that Richard Nixon, the 37th president of the US went to Whittier High School, the flexible network access enabled by Cisco ISE may be empowering the next generation of leaders, scientist or artists. But, mobile devices aren’t confined to education. San Antonio Water System, a public utility owned by the city of San Antonio, is seeing surprisingly similar issues.
We see them every day, at work, on the train, at conferences, at coffee shops, and everywhere else that people might gather: hand-held devices that function as telephones, Internet access devices, network access devices, or perhaps merely toys upon which we can play “Angry Birds.”
They are pervasive, inexpensive, and versatile. But they also beg the question of whether they are truly ready for prime time, in the business sense of the term.
The truth is that a lot depends on how these devices are used and what sort of access they are granted. At the end of the day, this question is really about balancing convenience and security. The knee-jerk response is that security will trump convenience every time. However, if convenience enables people to be more connected and do more work than the otherwise might, then that makes the decision somewhat tricky, doesn’t it?
Last week’s blog highlighted ways you can improve the user experience by preparing your network to meet the challenges associated with the sea of devices entering the corporate networks. Ultimately however, productivity is not only going to be depended on the freedom to choose a device, or the ease of access to information, or the quality of the connection when consuming bandwidth intensive content. It will largely be depended on the tools available on those devices – in other words “the apps”.
Most desk-bound knowledge workers will be quite content using existing productivity tools such as word processing, spreadsheet, or presentation software already available in the various app stores. There will however be many other types of workers that can tremendously benefit from having applications that are turbo-charged with network intelligence.
What do I mean by that? Well, you will just have to watch the video where Jagdish Girimaji, product manager for the Mobility Services Engine (MSE), outlines what network information can be exposed to make tablet applications more intelligent.
Ok, so maybe you are starting to give in to the idea that, employees bringing personally owned tablets at work, is indeed not a fad and you have to deal with it. You have decided on a BYOD strategy that protects company and network resources, while (mostly?) satisfying user appetite for connectivity anywhere from any device.
Great! Now. Is your 802.11n wireless network capable of delivering the user experience that is associated with these new sleek gadgets?
If you thought your network is “good enough”, then think again. This client wave is about to disrupt everything in multiple ways.
First, more devices on the network translate to significantly higher demands for bandwidth. In many cases bandwidth requirements can grow exponentially because the ratio of user to devices is no longer 1:1 but 1:2 and often 1:3. We therefore expect to see network utilization significantly rise over time.
Second, tablet form factor now allows users to truly be mobile. Unlike laptops, users can now walk/move and be productive at the same time. This new type of behavior will increase the number of clients roaming between access points.
Finally, it has been observed that tablets are primarily used for content consumption (as opposed to creation), and video is one of the predominant types of content being consumed, which further complicates bandwidth issues, but also creates new challenges.