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It’s Not the Wireless! BYOD and Cisco Live! Customer Guest Blog

This week I’m happy to continue our customer guest-blog series with Blake Krone, CCNA Wireless, CCNP Wireless, and CCIE Wireless candidate. You can read more from Blake on his blog, Digital Lifestyle or connect with him via Twitter @blakekrone. Read on for a Cisco Live perspective from a true wireless professional.

Recently 14,000+ technology geeks invaded Las Vegas for Cisco Live! 2011 at Mandalay Bay Convention Center. For me this was my 4th year in a row attending Cisco Live! and the 2nd in a row at Vegas. If you have never attended a Cisco Live! event in person I strongly suggest that you try to budget for it next time around. Not only is this the best week to jump head first into all areas of Cisco’s product portfolio but it is also an opportunity to see how the products can come together to provide connectivity for devices and people.

For every Cisco Live! event that is held Cisco builds their own network to support the conference attendees, sponsors, and speakers. This gives Cisco the opportunity to get a large set of data points regarding their products performance in abusive conditions. Lately we have seen or heard about the BYOD (bring your own device) phenomenon that is sweeping across the enterprise network and there is no better place to see that than a large IT conference.

One can safely assume that for all the 14,000+ in attendance each person will have at least 1 Wi-Fi connected device. Now let’s assume that a large chunk of those in attendance are like me and also have their laptop and a tablet with them, that’s a lot of connected devices to support! Whenever I talk with customers about wireless deployments the first thing I will say when we get to the point of turning on a network is that the client will cause the best wireless network to fail. We always push to make sure that the latest drivers are applied to the devices going to be used to ensure proper roaming and performance. But how do you manage that when you have no control over the devices being used? In the future we’ll use tools like Cisco NCS and ISE, for now we just hope it works!

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Cisco Live! Brings Virtual Communities Together

Today we have a special guest post by Andrew vonNagy, CCIE #28298 (Wireless), author of the blog Revolution Wi-Fi, Twitter @revolutionwifi and a Cisco customer. Huge thanks to Andrew for taking the time to share his Cisco Live experience!

Last week Cisco Live! 2011 took place in Las Vegas, NV. This year was my first time attending the conference, and I am a bit amazed at my experiences looking back on the event now that it is over. In addition to the deep technical content the conference is best known for, I found more valuable benefits are afforded to attendees willing to take a more active role in the technical community.

Arguably, the most valuable aspect of the conference is the opportunity for professional development through interaction with influential members of the industry, both internal and external to Cisco. Professional networking provides a foundation for growth and success by drawing on the energy of a collective group of friends and associates who share similar ambitions and have a drive to be successful, enabling the group to move forward as a whole. Building communities within the industry is when the magic starts to happen. Joining these communities can provide access to shared knowledge, creation of new and exciting opportunities, leveraging of broader connections throughout the community, and promotion of valuable content, products, or services created by trusted members within the community.

Many of these communities begin as virtual communities, built on social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and the rapidly growing Google+. These platforms enable greater access to members within the community, but must be used appropriately to be effective. Individuals trying to join the community must provide value to the larger collective and interaction must be genuine. A quote from a widely successful writer and blogger comes to mind…

Networking is always important when it’s real, and it’s always a useless distraction when it’s fake.Seth Godin

Industry events, such as the Cisco Live! conference, bring the virtual community together allowing attendees to build on existing relations formed online and expand on them by providing more personal interaction, helping to form more meaningful relationships.

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Tablets Welcomed. Won’t BYOD increase my device troubleshooting costs?

Each year a considerable part (up to 30% in some cases) of IT budgets is funneled towards device troubleshooting. It is no surprise therefore that after security, maintaining lean operational efficiency is the next most frequent concern regarding enabling a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) model.

Suppose you have allowed personal devices to connect on your corporate network, and you get a helpdesk call from a disgruntled employee that can’t access certain resources. How would you go about addressing the issue? In this video, Saurabh Bhasin, Product Manager of the Cisco Prime Network Control System (NCS) – a newly launched platform for unified wired and wireless network management – answers the troubleshooting question.

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Tablets Welcomed: Addressing the top BYOD concern. Security.

Allowing personal devices on the corporate network can make any IT professional cringe. Security is naturally a top concern – and the topic of today’s blog.

One dimension of security is about enabling network access. To do that properly, you would need to design and enforce a mobile device access policy, which may include attributes such as: what the device is, who the user is, where and when access is requested, and the health (posture) of the device. Another dimension of security is about maintaining overall device integrity regardless of the network (corporate or otherwise) it connects to.

In this video we only address the first. Cisco’s solution is based on a newly launched product, the Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE). Watch the video to learn:

  • What is the Cisco ISE?
  • Can I treat corporate devices differently from personal ones?
  • What about guests in the organization, do I need a separate system?

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Lighting up Cisco Live 2011 Vegas!

I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday here at Cisco Live! The time certainly flies by when you’re having fun and working hard. If you’re here, I hope you’ve been enjoying all the activities and sessions. More importantly, I hope you’re using the pervasive Cisco WiFi network my team has deployed in this venue.

Events like this have always been a big challenge for wireless coverage. You have the logistical challenges of lighting up a huge venue in a very short period of time to support high-densities of users. Many of these venues aren’t built and configured in ways that are conducive to good RF coverage practices. My team has a lot of experience lighting up these venues with wireless over the years and the requirements just keep getting more intense. A couple of years ago, WiFi was usually considered nice to have; now it’s not just expected, but most people carry multiple devices and they expect a great networked experience for their applications. I only expect this trend to continue as people get more and more networked and applications become more and more collaborative, media-rich and interactive. One thing that hasn’t changed though is that the WiFi gets blamed for all networked evils! Client driver problems? Routing issues? DNS down? Doesn’t matter, everyone blames the WiFi!

For Cisco Live this year, we’ve deployed ubiquitous WiFi, featuring 191 of our AP3500e and AP3500i access points. If you’re around the venue, you can see the APs strategically mounted on stands. The AP3500s are our flagship 802.11n APs, with our best indoor performance and, of course, Cisco CleanAir technology. If you aren’t familiar with CleanAir, it’s the coolest thing in the WiFi industry right now. CleanAir leverages powerful ASIC-based spectrum intelligence in the APs to detect RF interference in degrees other systems can’t, identify and locate interference sources, and automatically adjust and optimize the wireless coverage. The benefits of the technology include a self-healing and self-optimizing WiFi network, faster troubleshooting, and less downtime. You can learn more here: http://www.cisco.com/go/cleanair. Or better, come by the NOC and the Cisco booth and check it out yourself.

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