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Moving Beyond BYOD: Connecting the ‘Anytime, Anywhere’ Workforce

With more than seven billion souls set to tote 10 billion mobile-connected devices by 2016, mobility has not just arrived, it’s taken over our schools, businesses and personal lives.

Just ask Mitch Davis, the CIO of Bowdoin College, a private liberal arts college in Maine. Before BYOD ever became a global IT trend, according to Mitch, the vast majority of college students were already bringing their personal devices into the campus environment.

These co-eds expected Bowdoin to fully embrace personal mobility, and, upon graduation, these same post-grads expect that their employers will do the same (this year’s Connected World Technology Report findings back this up, with more than 40 percent of recent college graduates/Gen Y employees choosing BYOD flexibility over higher pay).

Bottom line, the rules of the game are changing, and companies must move beyond basic BYOD connectivity to meet employee demands today and tomorrow. To help companies meet these demands, we’ve introduced a comprehensive approach that unifies policy, supports a better user experience and simplifies management to deliver an uncompromised user experience in any workspace. After all, Cisco wants to empower IT managers to allow employees to have their devices and use them too. That means delivering:

  1. A unified security policy across the whole organization – wired, wireless, VPN and now MDM – helping companies set and enforce policies;
  2. An uncompromised user experience over the entire wired/wireless network, across any type of device; and,
  3. Simplified operations and network management to understand application performance from a user’s perspective, accelerating troubleshooting and lowering operating costs.

Like Ray-Ban aviators, BYOD is here to stay. And done the right way, BYOD demands a comprehensive approach to allow current and future employees to work how they want, when and where they want, and on the devices they want – while still allowing IT the control and visibility to sleep at night.

Learn more about our announcement and new technologies here.

By the way, whether you’re a college student or have been working for 30 years, you’re eligible to take the BYOD Challenge and win a trip to 2012 London Olympics – good luck!

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Mythbusters: All Data Encryption is the Same, Right?

Many small businesses opt for wireless networks; they provide the connection you need and are easier and less expensive to set up than a wired network. But that convenience can cost your company in compromised security and lost data if the network isn’t appropriately encrypted.small_business, wireless, wireless network, WLAN, security

Although most wireless LAN (WLAN) equipment comes with many settings preconfigured, encryption isn’t one of them. In this latest installment of Mythbusters, we explain why the encryption protocol you choose—Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) or Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA)—makes a difference.

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802.11i, Authentication and You

Not too long ago I was assigned to a troubleshooting and remediation project for a hospital here in the SF bay area. The problem, after much troubleshooting and lab recreations, was determined to be due to an unique issue with client roaming and authentication. During the course of troubleshooting my coworker and myself often found ourselves explaining 802.1X and 802.11i to others working on the troubleshooting effort, or requesting technical updates. So based on that experience, I started thinking this might a be a good topic to cover here.

Let’s review the some of typical components of the enterprise wireless security model.

What is 802.1X?
802.1X is not a protocol, but rather a framework for a “port-based” access control method.  802.1X was initially created for use in switches, hence the port-based terminology, which really doesn’t fit too well in wireless since users don’t connect to a port. In the end it’s meant to be a logical concept in the 802.11 world.  802.1X was adopted for wireless networks with the creation of 802.11i to provide authenticated access to wireless networks. At a high level. the framework allows for a client that has connected to the WLAN to remain in a blocked port status until it has been authenticated by a AAA server. Essentially the only traffic allow through this virtual blocked port is EAP traffic, things like HTTP would be dropped.

What is EAP?

EAP  (Extensible Authentication Protocol) is the authentication method used by 802.1X. It can take on various forms, such as PEAP, EAP-TLS, EAP-FAST, to name a few. There is one thing to remember when determining what EAP type to use in your network, is that it is dependent upon what your client and AAA server supports. This is it, your AP or AP/Controller hardware or code version will play no part in version is supported. Unless your AP/controller is acting as the AAA server, but I’ll stay away from that in this post. I think this can be a point of confusion for people who haven’t read much or anything about EAP methods. So, if some one asks what version of EAP the AP will support, all you need to do is ask them, what does their Client and AAA server support.

What is 802.11i?

Simply put, 802.11i is an amendment to the original 802.11 standard to address the well documented security short comings of WEP. It incorporates WPA  as a part of the 802.11i amendment and adds the fully approved WPA2 with AES encryption method. 802.11i  introduces the concept of a Robust Security Network (RSN) with the Four-way handshake and the Group key Handshake.

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Höganäs North America chooses Cisco over others for Unified Wireless and Secure Network – Part 2

Today, at Höganäs North America, the high-performance Cisco network delivers the day-to-day voice and data communications needed for around-the-clock communications and network connectivity that are vital to Höganäs’ staff for not only daily operations but to ensure the safety of their 80 plant employees: activities such as enabling crane operators servicing furnaces to alert nearby teams to help ensure their safety for example.

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Höganäs North America chooses Cisco over Motorola, Nortel, Avaya, and others – Part 1

Don’t you just hate it when you drop your phone and it just stops working? My last phone fell out of my top pocket when I leaned over our pool and even though I got it out in less than 10 seconds and tried to dry it out, it was toast. Well, soggy toast I suppose.

There are times when you need something more. If you’re a manufacturer and you need some ruggedization then you might find it advantageous to look at the Cisco offerings. There are rugged versions of several products: switches, wireless access points and IP phone handsets to name just three. In the video I talk about one of them, the 7925G-EX handset that has been available for a short while now, and is being increasingly adopted by customers.  Read More »

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