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The Technology Behind Borderless Networks: From ISR G2 to CleanAir

May 11, 2010 - 4 Comments

CleanAir’s Best of Interop 2010 Award evokes the Borderless Networks architecture once again. The concept of Borderless Networks is simple enough when you think about it from the perspective of the user – it’s about the need for access and connectivity anywhere, at any time, on any device. But how can technology practically deliver this vision of the network?

I’m reminded of a quote attributed to one of the greatest innovators of all time — Leonardo DaVinci. He said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Within the Borderless Networks Architecture, there is indeed much sophisticated technology working to meet this “simple” user ideal.

A series of technology innovations starting with the ISR G2 continuing through CleanAir have contributed to concrete progress towards fulfilling the promise of  Borderless Networks. Let’s take a look back at this series of advancements to better understand where we are today.

October 2009 marked the birth of a completely new generation of branch network “foot soldier.” 7 million of the first generation Cisco Integrated Services Routers had already been deployed when Cisco announced the ISR G2. Examining the new features of the ISR G2, it’s easy to see how Borderless Networks priorities had transformed the function and purpose of access routers in five years. The 5x performance increase on the ISR G2 was complemented by the Media Services Engine, supporting Medianet and high-quality video applications, and the Services Ready Engine, allowing new services to be deployed in the branch “on-demand.” Think faster, better access to borderless connectivity.

Flash-forward to March 2010 when we saw system-wide Borderless Networks transformations. Let’s start with routers. Did I say 5x performance increase? An upgrade of the ISR 3900E series brought an 8x performance increase over the first generation ISR 3800. The ISR G2 also became the first access router to support Cisco EnergyWise, bringing whole-building energy management to the branch. Cisco EnergyWise itself further extended its industry leadership stance through a new centralized energy command and control console called Orchestrator and support for PC power management via EnergyWise client software.

A new series of Catalyst 3k switches focused on three Borderless Networks priorities – video delivery, energy efficiency, and secure access. Specific innovations included high-performance Medianet support, EnergyWise extensions, StackPower introduction, and TrustSec, a secure policy-based access control system meant to meet new security challenges in an increasingly borderless world.

In addition to advances in routing, switching, and security, the last couple of months have also brought a slew of new Borderless Mobility technologies from Cisco. AnyConnect delivers seamless access across multiple wired and wireless networks. The ISR 887/888 routers with integrated wireless access points were followed by new standalone Aironet Access Points. VideoStream technology enhanced video delivery across wireless networks. And most recently, CleanAir, the industry’s first hardware-based RF interference solution for self-healing, self-optimizing wireless networks. A similar Borderless experience on wired and wireless networks means universal, seamless access for the network user. DaVinci was right… Simplicity requires sophistication.

In sum, these technology advancements not only bolster support for use of the network in a borderless world, they accelerate work, life, and learning practices that take best advantage of this borderless world. Routers and switches support the growth of video communications, “on-demand” services, and the great potential for cost savings through the network. Security solutions ensure the network is safe as borders are broken down. And Mobility solutions and applications make the “anywhere, any device” promise of Borderless Networks a reality.

Less than a year since Borderless Networks was first announced, we still have a lot more to do. Along the way, listening to you helps us set the right priorities. Feedback, as always, is welcome.

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  1. Borderless network is very innovative thinker. Its nice to know that people really continue to research for the better future.

  2. The Borderless Network seemed a few years ago an utopic dream, but we are rapidly changing direction of technological evolution towards this innovative concept which could bring us more benefits than we think. I strongly support research in this field!

  3. Borderless networks work best when the brains which are involved (user and developer) are immersed in dialogue situations. Enterprises have shown an organizational trend from a mechanistic mass-producing factory (1900’s)to social and envrinmental compatible network organizations to day. The greatest variable in this development is the use of knowledge, and the way knowledge dynamics is structured.We have developed a technology for structured dialogues using the interactive web. This may be an interesting enhancement for e.g. videoconferencing, based on our experiences so far with a hundred projects, ranging from security issues via care issues to environmental issues.

  4. Very interesting, Mark. I think the Catalyst3k switches could be an important aspect to pay attention to. But as with many of these types of changes lately, they may move quicker than we think. 🙂