Smart Access to Borderless Networks
I guess it’s a bit natural to feel a sense of pride when you are a part of the team that has innovated the vast majority of LAN Access switch features in the market. I joined this group about 2 years ago and have been in awe ever since. If innovation and the sheer brilliance of simplicity excites you then this should be a fun read.
It is probably obvious that every single endpoint connects to the network ONLY through an access switch. Even the wireless ones.. through the access point that is plugged into the access switch. So no endpoint can get into the network without going through an access switch.
What if the access switch could classify every device? One quick win would be automatically configure the switch port with the right layer2, medianet, energywise and security settings. This is what Auto Configuration achieves to a great extent. You could watch a video here to learn more about it.
One of our large retail customers walked us through the fat savings they had on deployment and operations because of auto configuration. All the time they had to spend on static configuration, and money spent on over provisioning would be saved. There was no need to worry about add, moves and changes. To a large extent the time spent on testing and coming up with configuration was going to be saved as for the most common devices, recommended configurations were built-in. They could easily customize these baked in configurations to suit their needs. All in all it was brilliant, they thought. For us it was just something natural, through innovation in our DNA. 😉
While we sat there listening to our happy customer on how they were to use all its benefits, it suddenly dawned upon us how we had unintentionally built-in a safety net by automating the configuration. Not only was the system immune to human errors, but also it was able to protect ports in common areas like lobby, conference rooms etc. If anyone unplugged a phone in the lobby the port configuration that allowed access to voice vlan would be gone. If now they plugged in a laptop, the port configuration would be completely different unlike the static port configuration… voila! It is also easy to enable using LAN Management Solution (LMS) 4.0
If the access switch can discover the endpoints then it can correlate every single traffic flow to the endpoints and their location. This insight gets lost as you go deeper in the network. An insight that can be really powerful in determining what differential treatment the particular traffic should get. If the WAN network elements could get this insight then you would not have to implement complex access-lists to classify the traffic for differential treatment. Read how medianet uses Auto Configuration to ease video deployments at Medianet 2.1.
The access into a borderless network has to be intelligent, adaptable and secure. This is everything that you can expect from the Cisco access switches.