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Pathway to a Cloud-Ready Wide-Area Network (WAN)

Tighter Planning Cycles for Greater Efficiency with the Evolved Services Platform

In the global geography of telecom, wide-area networks (WAN) are oceans of uncertainty. Resource-constrained and multivendor, WANs produce delays and outages in far-flung and sometimes remote areas, posing a special set of issues that are distinct from those we see in data centers and access networks.

WAN bandwidth is the most expensive bandwidth in the network and failure impacts are large. WANs bear the brunt of traffic growth with a very tricky calculus: underbuild your WAN and jeopardize your brand, but overbuild it and spend your way into oblivion.

Greater Predictability through Ever-Shortening Planning Cycles

To keep pace with these conundrums, you need sophisticated modeling and planning tools, which naturally evolved—in the case of the WAN Automation Engine (WAE)—into an ever-tightening loop of planning, building, and measuring, eventually encompassing SDN.

Longer planning cycles inevitably means over-engineering, over-building and over-hiring. With the Evolved Services Platform’s (ESP) Orchestration Engine, Cisco is shrinking these cycles, and thus reducing the uncertainties that lead to inefficiencies.

Last week I discussed the Orchestration Engine of the ESP in terms of how different components fit in individual domains. Let’s see how to use this framework to plan, engineer, and ultimately automate the WAN to make it cloud-ready.

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As the Process Becomes More Automated, a Shrinking Planning Cycle Brings Huge Efficiencies.

The cycle progressively shortens, from years to months, and eventually (with automated, programmable networking) to continuous changes. As this process moves from manual to automated, the network becomes more predictable.

But Why is this Happening Now? Read More »

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How Cisco IT Is Preparing the Global WAN for More Cloud Applications

Cisco IT is preparing our global WAN for employees’ growing use of third-party cloud services. Already we use more than 400 cloud services. The most popular are Cisco WebEx, Salesforce, SAP, and Office365. Read More »

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What’s in the Cisco Evolved Services Platform’s Orchestration Engine?

We created the Evolved Services Platform (ESP) to help our customers increase service revenue while driving down costs. In doing so, we needed to make it expansive to include the breadth of technologies and solutions that would apply to many domains (such as access, Wide Area Network (WAN), and data center) and technologies (such as cloud, security, and video).

And we addressed the fact that a virtualized network function (VNF) is only as good as the automation of orchestration capabilities that are used spin it up and expand it to fit the required job. Given all the VNFs (greater than 40, just counting our own) that we could conceivably be orchestrating, we had to ensure that the Cisco ESP was sufficiently broad and inclusive of multivendor technologies.

The following diagram shows the big picture—the applications and network services made possible by an open, elastic, and application-centric architecture. Read More »

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The Foundation for a Business Relevant Network

With the growing influx of new mobile devices, connected things, bandwidth intensive applications and more data, the network is more relevant to business success than ever before.  Back in June of 2012, Cisco saw that we needed to move away from multiple network systems loosely linked together to an agile and simple infrastructure, streamlined policy and centralized management would be needed to support new business demands. We called it Cisco Unified Access and we aligned the solution to three pillars: One Network, One Policy and One Management.

For the last few years, we have focused on delivering new products and functionality under this Unified Access model. Below is a timeline of products released as part of the Unified Access framework. Cisco lead the way in delivering gigabit 802.11ac Wi-Fi., converged wireless control in access switches and through the acquisition of Meraki – a complete cloud-managed network solution.

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The timeline above doesn’t represent every feature and function we have delivered, but it shows Cisco’s commitment to this Unified Access model, both from a cloud-managed and on-premise solution perspective.

Today, Cisco is announcing a number of new products and new functionality to existing products that will help mobilize the workforce, secure the business and increase IT agility. The announcement includes the following: Read More »

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Cloudburst: iOS 8 Generates 50% Increase in Network Traffic

Many network engineers recall the iOS7 update on September 18, 2013 as one of the most historic download days of their network’s history. All the more reason for us in the wireless world who anxiously anticipated the September 17 release of iOS8.

We asked a few of our customers to monitor the effect of the software release on their networks and the results for the first two days are in. Those in the education and healthcare space in particular are filled with early adopters of WiFi technology and devices, and eager to get their hands on the latest updates.

Joe Rogers, Associate Network Director at the University of South Florida shared this picture with us from 1pm September 17th, showing 1 Gbps more traffic than he would normally see at this time of day:

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Another customer, Greg Sawyer, Manager of Infrastructure Services, shared this picture of the iOS8 effect on his network at the UNSW Australia.

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He noted that his experience handling the release this year felt smoother than last year, despite the new peak internet download of 4.65 Gbps and 21Tb downloaded for the day! Not too surprising when considering that there were 27,000 concurrent connections on the wireless network and approximately 60% of those being Apple devices.

How should organizations be considering and handling these network spikes? I sat down with Cisco technical leaders Matt MacPherson and Chris Spain (@Spain_Chris) to get some insight on the effect of big updates like iOS8 on the wireless network. Here are some of the highlights of what we discussed:

The World We Live In

The truth is, more and more services are being moved to the cloud—a cloud that will push updates to millions & in the future billions of users and devices on our networks. Read More »

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