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Let the Customer Decide

The other day, I was sitting with some very smart Cisco people talking about the exciting new developments they’re working on. Very cool stuff, indeed. Somehow the subject of multivendor support came up. We all knew that, yes, Cisco does that. But we also agreed that, unfortunately not everyone else knows it.

We, no doubt, bear some of the blame because we don’t spend a lot of time talking about Cisco support for multivendor networks. Sure, no vendor wants to promote competing devices. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about working with and managing devices from other vendors. And we do that. Quite well in fact. Our management tools, including Prime Infrastructure, can discover all the devices on the network, including those from third parties. We can poll the devices to get high-level information such availability, basic device inventory, and top-NN reports for CPU, memory and interface utilization. And we can receive standard RFC compliant SNMP traps.

The real power comes from what we can do with Cisco devices. We’re able to get highly detailed data about our devices and apply intelligence—that’s the smart part—to turn that data into real network benefits such as RF interference mitigation, local services discovery, Cisco knowledge-based best practices, and other performance enhancements. And because we offer a complete, end-to-end portfolio, we can get that information and apply it to more points along the data path. Very powerful stuff.

So why don’t we make a bigger deal about it?

We don’t emphasize multivendor device support because the decision to focus on a single-vendor or multivendor should depend on the customer’s needs, not our marketing. If the customer has a legacy network or is integrating a legacy network from acquired companies or locations, it might make sense to support that existing infrastructure—regardless of vendor. And if that’s what the customer needs, we’ll do that. However, this is rarely the case. Why? Because this approach is really about maintaining the status quo. And if a customer sees their network as the platform for conducting business, maintaining the status quo is never good enough.

Check back in a few weeks and I’ll explain why a more unified network is generally a better choice than multivendor.

An “Escher Moment” for BYOD

So here I am, at a customer event in San Francisco, at an outdoor restaurant (yes, I’m cold).  Today we’ve been talking a lot about mobility – mobile devices (around 3 per person here today), how to extend access to corporate resources to employees or students or patients wherever they connect, how to manage BYOD.  No one is questioning whether this needs to happen, we have all moved on to HOW to make it happen, how to manage it, how to make it easy for users.

I’ve brought along my personal iPhone on 4G that I also use for work, and I’ve logged in to Cisco Jabber to stay connected while away from my laptop.  I’m just wondering if my manager has answered a couple of key questions for me when my phone buzzes in my pocket.  She is IM’ing on Jabber.  Where is she?  Well, you wouldn’t know it, but she is on a flight from San Francisco to New York.  Her company-owned laptop is connected using in-flight Wi-Fi, and she’s using WebEx Connect on her laptop.

What’s it called when a mirror reflects a mirror with infinite reflections, or a person holds a picture of themselves holding a picture?  That’s what this is — we are doing the same thing that we’re talking about.  We are working outside on the ground using 4G, and inside in the air using Wi-Fi, talking about mobility.  We are linked to corporate email and UC (Unified Communications) tools, and using AnyConnect VPN to access more sensitive information, regardless who owns the device, or whether it’s Windows or iOS or Andriod, or which access network or physical location.  In the sky or earth-bound city walker – we’re connected.  And talking about it.

What’s the most outlandish connection you’ve had? Any mobility Escher moments of your own?  Share with us on Twitter or Facebook.

802.11ac: The Fifth Generation of Wi-Fi Technology

802.11ac: The Fifth Generation of Wi-Fi Technology

In the last few months, there have been a lot of written on the emerging 802.11ac standard. This next generation of Wi-Fi promises to be very exciting since 802.11ac will address some critical pain points faced by users of 802.11n today – more bandwidth and more simultaneous users.  To help explain the technology, we put together a new Fundamentals video.  You’ll learn about new features such as:

  • Operating in the 5GHz band
  • Wider channels (80MHz & 160MHz) which means more capacity in the band
  • Increased modulation with 256 QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation), providing a significant increase in throughput over 802.11n which has 64 QAM
  • Downlink Multi-User MIMO which allows an AP to transmit to multiple clients simultaneously
  • Up to 8 Spatial streams which doubles the number of spatial streams used in 802.11n

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BYOD: No Longer a Four-Letter Word to Enterprise IT Leaders?

Until now, it’s been assumed that enterprise IT leaders probably view the current BYOD (“Bring Your Own Device”) movement with about the same enthusiasm as a farmer awaiting the next locust invasion.

A recent survey from the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG), however, indicates that BYOD may no longer be a “four-letter word” in enterprise IT departments. In fact, the study of 600 U.S. enterprise IT leaders—all from companies of 1,000 or more employees—shows that, if anything, BYOD now has a predominantly positive reputation in U.S. enterprise IT circles. Read More »

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It Could Happen to You!

As I flew home from Interop Vegas the other night – quick side note: the event was great, check out an overview and a few fun TechWiseTV Videos: Keynote from Padma Warrior , Managing Beyond BYOD, Is Your Network Ready for Cloud? –  I realized that my kindle was not accessible, my laptop was dead and I’d already read the in-flight magazine. Given the close quarters of the commuter plane, I decided it would be okay to peek at what my neighbor was reading. As I glanced over, he turned to an article with a headline that screamed “It could happen to you!!” I then noticed it was a combat handgun magazine and decided I would give him some space.

With no reading materials, I started thinking about all of the situations that we as individuals and as organizations get into that feel secure, but which can actually be quite threatening. Those are the situations that make having insurance worthwhile. When it comes to security on the wireless network, nobody expects hackers and rogue attacks to infiltrate their network, but all of the smart network managers prepare for it anyway.

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