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Best Practices for Application Delivery in Virtualized Networks – Part I

Earlier this year the Webtorials Analyst Division, co-founded by Dr. Jim Metzler, surveyed their subscriber base of IT professionals. Not surprisingly, 75% admitted that when a core business application degrades in performance, the end user notices before IT does. Therefore, 85% also believe that it is important, very important and even critical to senior managers that they take a more proactive approach to managing acceptable application delivery (See Figure 1).

Source: Metzler, Jim, “2011 Application & Service Delivery Handbook”, p. 14

Click here for the 2011 Application Service Delivery Handbook -- Cisco

Contributing to the challenges of ensuring good application performance are the very innovations that are meant to simplify business and IT operations. These include data center consolidation, virtualization and the wide variety of applications that IT must support– all of which creates operational issues for IT. Not to worry – there are best practices that IT organizations can implement as application delivery challenges continue to evolve. In Part I of this blog post on application and services delivery, I’ll share what I consider to be key learnings from Dr. Metzler’s comprehensive 129 page guide. We’ll start with some core challenges:

Key Application Delivery Challenges

Proliferation of different types of applications: Today, companies utilize a wider variety of applications than ever. Some applications are business-critical. Others enable other business functions. And still more applications support communication and collaboration. Not only do they vary in criticality, but they also vary in their demands on the network. For instance, video streaming, which causes a lot of strain on the network may be key on some occasions (think company-wide all hands meetings a la Apple’s tribute to Steve Jobs), but recreational during other times. IT managers must audit company-wide application use, pinpoint a select group of business critical applications and formulate and execute a plan for optimization.

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Essential Skills for Today’s Unified Communications Operations Staff

Just a decade ago, supporting enterprise voice services was simpler, our voice operations support scope was smaller, and one person could be proficient in everything you needed to know for voice operations. But as IP telephony capabilities grew into Unified Communications, the skills our engineers had to be proficient in grew exponentially.

Today, we support UC systems and collaboration platforms, both on traditional hardware and now on virtualized server platforms (Cisco UCS). We still support phones and softphones, but now we also support mobility services, video phones and mobile devices like the Cisco Cius, voice and video conferencing, menus of phone-based services, and ever-more sophisticated customer support tools in our contact centers. There are now so many things within the scope of the UC systems that we manage that it would be extremely difficult in an enterprise the size of Cisco to be an expert in everything. So, individuals on our voice operations team need to specialize.

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It’s not just the PC…it’s the experience that’s changing

The industry is buzzing about the “post-PC era,” but some customers I talk to object to the term because it’s not just about the PC. The entire compute stack has changed fundamentally – new devices, server architectures, and operating systems have exploded onto the scene.

The post-PC era is really about a new experience – a change in the way people are using apps, devices, and the network to connect with people and information.

As business people choose alternatives to the PC (and alternatives like cloud computing), we at Cisco believe their experience can’t be compromised. It has to surpass the PC / client-server paradigm.

The Cisco Cius and our latest advance in the Cisco Virtualization Experience Infrastructure are very different solutions that offer business advantage in the post-PC era. Let me tell you why.

The Cisco Cius is an enterprise collaboration device for business that integrates mobile video, voice and virtualization into a single device. Its multi-touch tablet form factor allows mobility while delivering a powerful user experience.

It securely delivers my virtual desktop and all my business apps – as well as voice and HD video calls – in a mobile device. Depending on where I’m going, I can leave the laptop at home.

Cisco’s App Developer Program

Since its launch, Cisco Cius has really beefed up its applications profile while maintaining enterprise data security (and believe me, IT loves the security and manageability of the Cius).

At Cisco Live in July, we announced AppHQ, the industry’s first enterprise applications marketplace. Android developers are seeing how simple and powerful AppHQ really is, and as a result, hundreds of mobile business apps are being created, managed, and deployed quickly and securely. (Soon I predict there will be thousands.)

Wyse’s “PocketCloud” Remote Desktop App for Cius
In late September, Wyse announced their PocketCloud solution for Cius available via AppHQ – it lets you securely access, search, control, and edit the files stored on your computer from anywhere. I love it. It’s no surprise why PC World named Wyse PocketCloud the ‘best by far’ remote desktop Android application.

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Multitenancy in the Data Center: Putting a New Paradigm to Work

Imagine if you were a building contractor and a client came to you and said, “I need you to build a commercial facility suitable for a variety of occupants, including a 24-hour machine shop that consumes massive amounts of electricity, a workshop for the disabled full of assistive equipment, and a rare gems dealer who requires maximum security.  Oh – and by the way – they’ve all signed 5-year leases, so your design will have to anticipate their future needs.”

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Cisco ASA 1000V: The Cloud Ready Firewall

November 28, 2011 at 11:57 am PST

Juniper Reality

In this show, we cover the new ASA 1000V and how this security family represents the oldest yet most future ready security platform.

What is the relevance of a Firewall in today’s modern world where security must encompass every part of increasingly distributed operations? What is really meant by a Cloud Ready Firewall?  What the heck is this new ‘virtual ASA’…didn’t we already have the Virtual Security Gateway?  Perhaps its all just marketing hype…

Or not.

In my estimation, the cloud is overhyped in the short run, but underestimated in the long run.  Every enterprise is now exploring some aspect of a cloud based service model – whether this represents you now or in the future, the notion of a flexible security solution remains important.  Incredible advances for data center infrastructure with the flexibility and speed enabled by the virtualized tools we are all now using – MUST be accompanied by equally capable security tools.

The original maxim still rings true: Security must be addressed at every layer.

Questions we must answer:

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