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BYOD and Back to School…Already?

Popsicles, water balloon fights, fireflies and staying up past your bedtime. These summertime rituals haven’t changed since I was a kid. What has changed is technology and the buying cycle for back-to-school.  Last week in Target I saw an entire wall display of back packs.  My kids have been out of school for exactly one month and retailers are already pushing school supplies! 

Sunday I woke up brewed a pot of coffee and sat down with my iPad to check Facebook and peruse my email. Cisco has embraced Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), so I have secure access to my work email on my iPad at home. I checked a few work emails, but I just couldn’t resist the Red, White and Blue 20% off coupon in my inbox.  Had I not seen the back-to-school display last week and received the coupon in my inbox would I be buying khaki pants and blue shirts the 2nd week of July?  Shopping on a laptop is easy. Shopping on an iPad is just downright dangerous!  Consumerism was starting to take over, but in my mind I justified it as one less thing on my to-do list for August.

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Unified Access: 50 Shades of Gray

Okay, maybe networking isn’t quite as hot as the best-selling book.  But figuring out what “unified access” means is definitely not straight-forward.  So how do you sift through the many claims around “unified” solutions, to find out which one really is?

First, start by reading the Gartner Magic Quadrant report on wired/wireless networking. As we’ve discussed earlier, Cisco is a leader in this report.  It just came out, and it’s the first time Gartner has combined LAN switching and Wireless LAN – a good indicator that it’s time to get serious about evaluating unified access layer connectivity solutions.

Next, ask your vendor these questions to see how unified their solutions really are — “one network” or several silos.

1. Do you truly have one policy interface to manage guests and context-aware network access across wired, wireless and VPN?

  • You should have one single source of truth for policy, else you’re prone to inconsistencies that can lead to security holes, and your IT staff spends too much time manually entering policies for VPN client, guest access, wired access and wireless access.  Most vendors claim “one interface” for a narrow piece of functionality, like guest access, but can’t claim integration with VPN and management.
  • Cisco offers the Identity Services Engine , that converges policy administration across the organization, for wired, wireless and remote access – no other vendor offers that level of unification.

2. Does one security infrastructure support wired and wireless?

  • Some architectures treat wireless as a pure overlay, with separate firewall and VPN capability. This approach does not scale well, burdening the wireless controller with firewall transactions and requiring additional controllers to support the wireless traffic.  You should extend the same security from the core of your network to the WLAN seamlessly, with the power to scale up to enterprise-class demands.
  • Cisco offers the SecureX framework, with 802.1x, VPN client and context-aware firewall with massive scalability.  The always-on AnyConnect client requires no user intervention and works across the industry’s broadest client platform, not just iOS.  At the head end is a context-aware ASA firewall, capable of fine-grained control down to the application level.

3. Can you track and troubleshoot end user experience end to end, across any network?

  • Both from a user satisfaction perspective and from an IT productivity standpoint, the BYOD era requires management tools to quickly identify issues a user may have in access networked resources.  With so many diverse platforms on the network, IT has to have visibility and diagnostics at a new level of efficiency and completeness.  When a problem arises, the fastest way to resolve it is a single source of truth.
  • Cisco offers Prime Infrastructure, a single entry point into converged wired/wireless monitoring and troubleshooting, with integrated policy information from ISE.  Not only do IT managers have a simple dashboard view for application performance across the entire network, they have a one-click troubleshooting tool based on user ID (or IP address or any other piece of information) to work backward from the client to find issues – be they wired or wirelessly connected.

4. Is there a strong track record of innovation and excellence in both wired and wireless networking?

  • The list of network vendors is long if you include anyone who has made a switch or access point.  When you look at companies that have years of research and support invested in the largest networks in the world – both wired networks and wireless networks—the list shortens considerably. To scale your infrastructure into the future, to support evolving 802.11ac throughput and burgeoning mobile device density, you need solid technology on both wired and wireless.  To ensure both platform stability and reliability, look for companies that have industry-leading innovation, a track record of years of investment and customer success across both enterprise and Service Provider and have participated in and helped develop and support global industry standards  in both wired and wireless .,
  • Cisco leads the switching industry with decades of experience, unsurpassed network scalability, and innovations that offer real business value for customers –such as Power over Ethernet, Secure Group Tagging, and integrated wireless modules.  In parallel, Cisco has delivered wireless industry firsts like hardware-based CleanAir spectrum intelligence, mobile client acceleration with ClientLink, and an alphabet soup of standards delivered first (including 802.11n, 802.11u, 802.11r and now 802.11ac). There is no compromise on wired or wireless.

If your networking vendor can answer Yes to all of these, congrats — it means you’re on solid footing for the future, because you’ve got a truly unified infrastructure with no “gray areas”.  Oh, and it means you’ve got “One Network” from Cisco.

Cisco leads 2012 Gartner Wired Wireless Magic Quadrant

Cisco leads 2012 Gartner Wired Wireless Magic Quadrant

This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from Cisco.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

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Cisco Connected Hospitality Solutions to be featured in Guestroom of the Future

As hospitality professionals prepare to attend the 2012 Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC®), the world’s largest hospitality technology exposition and conference in Baltimore at the end of this month, it is exciting to anticipate the emerging mobile-enabled technology and trends that will be on display and discussed during the event.

Throughout the conference, Cisco will discuss with partners, customers and industry professionals about the impact of wireless demand on hotels and how different platforms such as smartphones, tablets, and other devices are impacting how hoteliers reach guests. If there is one rule in the hospitality industry, it’s that a positive guest experience is paramount and during the conference, Cisco’s Chief Technology Officer, Bob Friday, and John Bollen, vice president of technology with MGM Resorts International will be speaking about how mobile technology can do just that.  In a speaking session titled, “Take on the Wide World of Mobile, Platform by Platform”  on Monday, June 25th at 2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m, the duo will discuss how to build an infrastructure that works with guests’ wide-range of bandwidth and device needs and offers guests the option to connect their personal electronics to your equipment and networks in the resort. If you will be in attendance at HITEC, I encourage you to attend this session.

Building off of the mobility conversation will be the solutions featured in the GUESTROOM 20X, a model guestroom featuring the latest and near-future technologies for the modern hotel room.  As the patron sponsor of the GUESTROOM 20X, Cisco will be displaying two Cisco Connected Hospitality solutions that enable mobile hospitality and transform the way guests experience a hotel property. These solutions are mobile hospitality and travel applications that can run on any device including Meridian by Spotlight Mobile, an indoor location-sensing system application enabled by Cisco’s Mobility Services Engine and SuiteLinq, a digital media platform application accessed through Cisco’s high-speed wireless connectivity portfolio.

The Cisco Connected Hospitality solutions featured at HITEC don’t end at GUESTROOM 20X. During the conference, Cisco will be showcasing how digital signage can enhance the guest experience through an interactive kiosk on the show room floor and hosting hands-on demos of the Edge 300 in the Cisco Business Suite. The Edge 300, part of Cisco’s Small Business line of network solutions, is a portfolio of affordable managed switches that provides a reliable foundation for your business network and is ideal for small hotels.

These mobile solutions are indicative of just what is possible in a future hotel room. And as we prepare to attend HITEC and discuss how mobility is shaping the hospitality industry, it is clear that the time to start planning for tomorrow’s hotel is now.


Management and the Gartner Magic Quadrant

As we’ve been discussing this week, Gartner just came out with their Wired and Wireless LAN Infrastructure Magic Quadrant report. If you haven’t had an opportunity to read the report, you should.

We address the subject of the report—the converged wired/wireless network—through a “One Policy, One Management, One Network” approach. “One Management” is made possible with Prime Infrastructure which provides the “best-of-breed” management for end-to-end wired and wireless lifecycle management. That means one place to manage, design, deploy, monitor, optimize, and administer your entire network—regardless of whether the connection is wired or wireless.

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Fast roaming with 802.11r

Imagine a time when the leading edge Wi-Fi was limited to deployment in select conference rooms; that was 10 years ago with 802.11b.  Then came the rapid adoption of laptops and the awe of laptops potentially outselling pcs; that was 7 years ago with 802.11a/g. It was at that time that Cisco innovated with a solution to stay connected when walking from one side of the building to another. The Cisco Centralized Key Management (CCKM), as a part of CCX, optimized employee connection and experience wherein the client does not need to undergo complete re-authentication when transitioning from one access point to the other.

Now we are in the midst of the BYOD (bring your own device) trend. Smartphones and tablets support are a necessity. For example, 55 million iPads sold in 18 months; more than ALL the Mac sales in 22 years (Apple, 2012). Voice-over wiFi was paramount to address (keyword = “was”). Cisco CCX advanced Voice-over-Wi-Fi hopped several steps ahead with power saving functionality through a packet buffering technology (UPSD), ensuring good MOS quality through Traffic Specifications based Call Admission Control and empowering the IT administrators to characterize and debug sessions through Voice Metrics. These technologies are tested and deployed in the market through deployments in healthcare and manufacturing customers.

These Cisco technology innovations are the foundation for the now ratified IEEE standards: 802.11r for fast roaming between access points, 802.11k for radio resource metrics and 802.11v around managing neighbor lists, beacon reports et. al. Now the WFA has announced WMM-AC and Voice Enterprise certification using these underlying technologies and standards. This should definitely help broader adoption of Voice-over Wi-Fi coupled with the recent wave of Wi-Fi enabled 802.11n based smart-phones and free applications such as SkypeTM or Google TalkTM.

Cisco continues to lead customer deployment through supporting the Wi-Fi alliance testbed, testing with various client vendors and shipping 802.11r solutions now!  Optimize the user mobile experience over wireless internet networks where the handshake with the new access point is done even before the client roams to the target access point. Pretty soon your wireless network will tell you where to go(At least which AP to roam to).

Apple’s IOS-6 now supports 802.11r and Neighbor Lists:

More innovations to come… Stay Tuned!