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Got a Network Outage? Blame it on Santa!

January 11, 2010 - 3 Comments

Ah…the beginning of a New Year. Better yet – a new decade! The resolutions, the inspired ideas and of course all the holiday weight to lose. It was a good break. Like last year, Cisco had an enforced shutdown with the majority of company going on “vacation”. It was good not to come back to an e-mail backlog. The clock had indeed stopped.

It has been 10 days into the New Year already, and it already feels like a Loong time. The year seems to have begun on a positive note though. Retails sales were up in the holidays. Job losses, while still high, seem to be declining. Many companies have started hiring. Emerging markets are buoyant. The Burj Khalifa helped reach new heights. And boy, did the box offices rock to Avatar grossing Na’vigating themselves to movie history. Earthquakes (including a recent one that shook our San Jose office last week), realty, and attempted terrorist attacks have certainly put a damper on things, but there is something in the air this time around that was completely missing last year – Optimism!

From a theme of “Innovate to survive”, the mood has shifted to a theme of “Innovate to thrive”. The most excitement has been with consumer gadgets. People are willing to spend on entertainment either for themselves, or because their kids bug Santa and put him in overdrive. Most kids in my neighborhood seem to have these smartphones. Texting is no longer cool. They need to update Facebook and upload their videos, making the iPhones among the top gifts of 2009. iPhone ruled 2009 and the holiday season, alongwith its other Apple ibrethren. A variety of eReaders, gaming consoles, and of course the big screen TVs made news. Cool stuff was hot. Cisco’s own Flip cameras had the cool factor. I was gawking at the Flips in Costco, when the sales person told me to “grab them before they’re gone”.  I did.

CES 2010 turned out to be an interesting show and a great start to the year already. I was blown away by the number of cool gadgets and innovative ideas. Get set for the 3D onslaught, as games, televisions and communication shifts into 3D. Not to mention movies like Avatar.  3D is definitely in. As prices drop, they will be the norm. Does anybody buy a CRT TV anymore? Streaming devices, and everything mobility are attracting a lot of interest. People want seamlessness. At home. And in their workplaces. And everywhere in-between. (A little plug here – that’s one of the goals of our borderless network philosophy)

I think 2010 will be driven by the consumer and the food chain may be somewhat inverted. All these devices  the iPhone, the netbooks, the notebooks, the tablets, eReaders and the Droids are going to suck more and more bandwidth (remember “Droid Does”? ). Many of these devices are landing up in the workplace. Organizations have to deal with dynamic bandwidth allocation. Service Providers are learning these lessons first. A couple of Tier-1 service provides in the U.S and UK were widely reported having problems provisioning iPhone subscribers and dealing with the new data traffic surge. Unlimited data plans on various mobile devices with 3G and 4G, and app-hungry consumers are not really the best recipe for networks at times.

Here’s the interesting bit. It is no longer the case where these consumer devices are meant for private use or for use at home only. They are increasingly proliferating the workplace and using video to boot. Storing, transmitting and sharing these video files for business or personal use, is “heavy” for networks that were designed earlier in the last decade where video was still going through the hype cycle. Even Telecommuters are inadvertently getting into VPNs and transmitting large files, especially as many companies enforce the concept of central security without a split tunnel. Security issues aside, for a network that is not geared to handle the onslaught of video traffic (see Cisco’s Visual Network Index and check your pulse), it can be pretty messy performance-wise. For medium to large businesses, I’d highly recommending doing a video assessment of their network that profiles the traffic and maps it to your growth pattern and usage.  Investing in WAN optimization is never a bad idea, especially if your business has multiple sites. High-end video conferencing systems come with excellent compression support, but you may need to look at video, voice and data traffic holistically and in a secure manner, which is where technologies like WAAS step in and provide a performance boost.

The next decade is going to be certainly exciting. In the early 2000, we didn’t have the iPoD. Not many had heard of Google, Facebook was non-existant and Cisco was still a router and switch company (it still is Smile) with no cool consumer products to boast of. A decade changes things. This decade will turn out to be the “decade of the consumer” like never before. Newer innovations will up the ante to help collaborate, get entertained and stay cool.

Of course, it may lead to an occasional outage as a mobile video hogging device melts your network. If you’re a Network Admin, don’t sweat. Relax. There’ll always be someone to blame. No? Then just put the blame on Santa. After all, he’s the one hauling these gadgets all over the world just in time for the holiday season.

Our friends at NORAD should be able to track him next December.


Gotta go. Need to upload my new Flip video to my Facebook site.

Happy New Year!



Shashi Kiran

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  1. If you've not watched John's comments from CES, here's a blog with the link. Video is big.

  2. Hi Harish,Wireless and mobility are the logical directions most devices today, and it would be a great addition on Flip. I personally don't have visibility into the Flip roadmap, but as a consumer myself, would love it. Let's wait and watch :-)Cheers,Shashi

  3. Hi Shashi:Enjoyed your blog. I bought the Flip at Christmas too. Will the Flips get wireless anytime soon?Harish