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Score for IT this World Cup

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two weeks, you know that the FIFA World Cup is in full swing. Stakes are higher than ever as we move into the semi-finals with more and more people tuning in to cheer on their favorite futbol teams. In fact, FIFA just released a media release yesterday about how this year’s 2014 FIFA World Cup™ has set new records for streaming data traffic around the world. My colleague Ido blogged about IWAN helping with the bandwidth overload caused by the FIFA World Cup last week, so let’s dive deeper and talk about video and high density.

There is no denying it: your employees and customers are streaming video. While the volume of that streaming dramatically peaks around game times during the World Cup, it should be no surprise that today, mobile applications, largely video, are increasing mobile traffic across networks. That’s straight forward: apps + video = bandwidth drain. Combine that with the fact that people are touting multiple devices--think a laptop and a smartphone, maybe a tablet, too. This means high density--lots of clients and devices on a single network. These circumstances trigger three potential yellow cards to cross an IT person’s mind – let’s see how we can avoid them.

YELLOW CARD #1: Rich Media Optimization

As an end-user, the common expectation is that I should get the same crisp, clear, rich  media or video experience across all platforms—I don’t care if it’s my phone, my tablet or my laptop: make it high definition. This is harder said than done.

It is not easy to provide the same rich media experience across wired and wireless devices. Traffic from wireless devices has to travel all the way back to the controller in a data center and then back to an access switch before reaching its destination. It’s called the hairpin effect. The result is that video over Wi-Fi could look grainy. That won’t do for the current generation of high definition junkies.

To meet or exceed expectations for high quality video, the IT department needs better tools. This comes in the form of a robust wireless network that is designed for rich media optimization. Cisco’s Unified Access helps by eliminating the hairpin effect because the converged access switches (see full portfolio) has an integrated IOS-based controller, effectively cuts out the leg of the journey to and from the data center which leads to faster, higher quality video.

Unified Access does this and more—check out this interactive demo and see for yourself.

YELLOW CARD #2: High Performance in High Density Environments

More devices, more problems—IT is constantly challenged to provide the same high performance in increasingly high density environments. High density environments have crowding and competition for bandwidth, so throwing in the World Cup semi-finals match with the heavy bandwidth requirement for that high quality video experience, you have a problem.

That’s why Cisco has purpose-built access points to help combat the challenges that come with high density environments. The AP2700 and AP3700 are designed to come with a full technology suite called High Density Experience (HDX) and it is packed with features to specifically target challenges in high density environments for our customers, including::

YELLOW CARD #3: Application Visibility & Control for Mission-Critical Networks

As the BYOD trend grows, identifying and prioritizing business-critical applications in a Wi-Fi network is essential to any enterprise. IT teams at organizations with mission-critical networks know how problematic it can be to face a barrage of non-critical applications taking up bandwidth on their networks. Enter Application Visibility and Control on both wired and wireless, which prioritizes certain apps in mission-critical situations like hospitals so noncritical apps don’t eat all the bandwidth.

The Cisco AVC solution for wireless networks identifies more than 1000 business-critical and consumer-class applications using deep packet inspection (DPI). This extraordinary visibility into application traffic allows administrators to mark applications for further prioritization, or block them for security reasons or to conserve limited network bandwidth.

At Cisco, we use AVC to monitor our own network. Here you see the top applications and app traffic analysis from some of the key games leading up to today’s semifinals.

From this view in Prime Infrastructure, you can see the regular common apps Cisco employees are using over the web—WebEx Meeting and Cisco Jabber IM. We pulled this image during a match and clearly you can see that a significant number of employees were streaming on ESPN video and ESPN browsing.

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Then there’s this screen grab where we see a clear spike in app traffic during the game.

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For more on Wireless AVC, visit www.cisco.com/go/wirelessavc

Whichever game is on, having the right tools to turn potential unhappy end-users into happy futbol watching fans—AND ensuring that your business apps are up and running will effectively score a GOAL for IT!

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