Over the last 15 months Cisco has revolutionized how organizations provide reliable, secure access to end-users and devices that connect via wireless, wired or VPN networks. This new approach to unified access delivers significant operational improvements by delivering One Policy, One Management, and One Network. However, operational improvements are only half of the story. As a key solution within the Cisco ONE Enterprises Network Architecture, Cisco Unified Access allows IT to shift from merely managing the network to driving business change by delivering new connected experiences.

Business Innovation Starts with Mobility

IT is looking beyond just securely onboarding mobile devices to now scaling the access across devices. The goal is to provide the best possible user experience for rich media applications while managing the applications and content on these devices.  Mobile device use continues to grow and the bandwidth required by the applications on those devices is likewise increasing. Higher mobile density, and the need for an infrastructure that can handle it,  is becoming a necessity:

  • 60% of knowledge workers use a mobile device for work, 47% White collar roles require mobility (Source: 2012 Cisco IBSG Horizons Study)
  • 60% of users admit to engaging in risky behavior on a device – company owned or personal – while connected to corporate resources
  • Globally, mobile data traffic will increase 13-fold between 2012 and 2017. Mobile data traffic will grow at a CAGR of 66%between 2012 and 2017, reaching 11.2 exabytes per month by 2017. (Source: Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2012–2017)

Having a large number of mobile devices is not necessarily a bad thing.  Organizations are beginning to see that by leveraging context-aware network intelligence and insights from mobile device usage they can better engage their targeted audience, drive competitive differentiation, and enable new revenue opportunities. These new engagements and opportunities can be achieved when they provide LOB with insights and analytics about customer behaviors, onsite and online.  The LOBs are then able to to deliver personalized experiences on visitors’ mobile devices which generates new marketing and advertising opportunities. Additional research shows:

  • 75% of US digital shoppers want a personalized experience (Source: IBSG 2012)

Customers want to engage with a venue before, during and after an event, however 22% of apps are only used once. (Source: http://www.localytics.com/blog/2013/localytics-app-user-retention-data/) Today at Interop New York 2013, Cisco unveiled a number of new product and solution innovations built to expand on and extend the power of unified access to drive these new connected mobile experiences.

Cisco Unified Access the Foundation For Connected Mobile Experiences

Purposely Designed for High Density

The Cisco Aironet 3700 Series is an enterprise class access point supporting the latest Wi-Fi Standard: 802.11ac. The Aironet 3700 Series is purpose-built for High Density Network Environments that utilize Mission Critical, High Performance Applications. The 3700 Series goes beyond merely supporting the latest and greatest Wi-Fi standard by delivering High-Definition Experience technology, which includes the newest versions of Cisco’s proven RF Excellence. The Cisco Aironet 3700 Series Delivers:

  • 3X the performance of 802.11n with 802.11ac support which means that users can benefit from greater performance at a further distance form the access point.
  • Optimized access point roaming which quickly releases users from one access point to the next closest access point as users move through the environment.
  • Purpose-built chip set that delivers the next wave of ClientLink with enhanced beamforming as well as CleanAir on the 802.11ac 80Mhz channel.
  • A modular design that can be utilized to add additional security or extend 3G coverage indoors or add next-gen functionality when available providing investment protection.

The need for 802.11ac has become more prevalent in recent months. Charlie Enicks, Chief Information Officer at Georgia Regents University and Health System sums up this need “As an Academic Health Center and clinical enterprise associated with a public comprehensive research university, there is growing demand for more bandwidth and reliability across our wireless network. We looked to Cisco for faster and more scalable wireless technology that would support our primary missions for patient care, education and research.  We now have the capability to drive and scale more performance out of our Wi-Fi Network with 802.11ac, the Next Generation of Wi-Fi and Cisco’s Unified Access Solutions.”

[Editor’s Note:  Cisco presented at Tech Field Day Roundtable – Here we preview the 3700]

Moving Unified Access Outdoors

Cisco also introduce the Cisco Aironet 1530 Series Outdoor Access Point that can be used to extend coverage from indoors to the outdoors in retail and campus spaces. With its low profile, aesthetically pleasing design, the 1530 is ideal for deployment in areas such historical cities locations where an access point should not stand out. The Cisco Aironet 1530 delivers 802.11n performance and the Cisco Flexible Antenna Port technology, which is software configurable for either single-band or dual-band antennas.

Bringing Converged Access to More Organizations

The Cisco Catalyst 3650 Series is an enterprise-class stackable access switch for enterprise and midmarket customers that provides the foundation for full wired and wireless convergence on a single platform. This is Cisco’s newest combined wired and wireless access platform, following the release of the Cisco Catalyst 3850 switch and Catalyst 4500E switch with Supervisor Engine 8-E, to help customers simplify the infrastructure, improve operational efficiency and increase business responsiveness.

The Cisco Catalyst 3650 Series Switch is the foundation stackable access switch for all converged wired and wireless deployments where the higher performance of the Catalyst 3850 Series switch is not required. For these deployments, the Catalyst 3650 Switch features Cisco StackWise-160 with optional 160G stacking, support for 25 APs and fixed uplinks for simplicity, affordability,  and unified access.

Securing the Device and Identifying Threats

Cisco has extended our ISE partner ecosystem to deliver a comprehensive BYOD security solution that unites network and device-level control (Cisco ISE, Web Security, WSA, AnyConnect and ASA) with mobile device-level control (MDM/MAM Partners) and threat control (SIEM Partners).

  • Network control provides user and device authentication, posture assessment, policy enforcement, context aware control, threat defense, web usage policy and secure remote access to protect the network environment
  • Mobile device control allows for device inventory, provisioning and de-provisioning, data security, application security, full and selective device remote wiping to assure business applications and information does not end in the wrong hands
  • Threat control associates users with network events via ISE and has the ability to automatically quarantine the user or device and reset the appropriate access –accelerating the threat prevention effort.

The Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) integrates with the broadest choice of best-of-breed MDM, MAM and SIEM partners to meet your unique policy needs, device type and security requirements.  Cisco’s MDM strategy delivers the best of both worlds. You can select the MDM vendor of your choice to meet your unique mobile device requirements.  You can then support those devices on the most robust Cisco ONE Enterprises Network Architecture.

CMX Innovations: If You Can Imagine It You Can Build It

Cisco is announcing new partnerships in the CMX Partner Ecosystem program. This program enables a broad range of use cases to allow organizations to detect, connect, engage, and analyze their customers and guests using CMX Wi-Fi location service capabilities.

With over a dozen new partnerships the Cisco Partner Ecosystem enables organizations to customize applications and services.  This customization can be applied to deliver location-aware guest access, device-based services, browser-based services, customized mobile applications, online and onsite analytics, social analytics, and advertisements.  These in turn help businesses develop robust marketing tools that enable organizations to build their own marketing campaigns, integrate with CRM systems, and report metrics. Using the Mobility Services API with support for REST Cisco partners can tightly integrate location information into relevant customer applications. All partners within the Cisco Partner Ecosystem have certified integration with the Mobility Services Engine (MSE) and are part of the Cisco Developer’s Network (CDN) program.

As an example of how Ecosystem Partners deliver new connected experience, CMX for Facebook Wi-Fi allows organizations to engage and analyze customers and guests using the Cisco and Facebook Wi-Fi platforms. CMX for Facebook Wi-Fi uses a software connector on the Cisco ISR G2 or ASR 1000 routers with UCS E-Series blades to enable end users to connect to the Cisco Wi-Fi network.  Customers can “check-in” to the venue’s Facebook profile to get coupons or other enhancements to their experience in-venue.. Organizations deploying CMX for Facebook Wi-Fi receive general demographic information which helps them to:

  • Increase brand exposure through automated Facebook venue Check In with News Feed streaming and increased rankings for Graph Search and Nearby Facebook features
  • Deliver targeted advertisements to users who Check In; increase conversion with venue relevancy and social context

From an analytics perspective the organization gains valuable insight into its customer base through demographics data from users who Check In, such as age, gender, city (origin), and language. These demographics, when used in conjunction with the Cisco location-based analytics, allows IT organizations to gather a context-aware view of the end-users and how they interact within their environment. This powerful analytics allows organization to develop tools and programs that can influence behavior within those locations or adjust the location to accommodate user habits or interests.

Additionally, Connected Mobile Expereinces has a refreshed onsite analytics UI and online analytics dashboard that allows Line Of Business personnel to create and measure mobile web promotions and advertisements. These notifications can be delivered  directly to the end-user device based on the location, number of times the device has been in a particular location, or even the URL the user is on in the venue. CMX is quickly becoming a integral part of any BYOD or Unified Access solution.

[Editor’s Note: Cisco also presented the CMX SDK at Tech Field Day!]

The Right Infrastructure, The Right Visibility, The Right Engagement…Right Now

With Cisco Unified Access as the network foundation that delivers IT simplicity, centralized policy management and enforcement, and converged wired and wireless management IT organizations are redefining their role in the business. Adding the Cisco Connected Mobile Experiences to the Cisco Unified Access solution, IT organizations can now find new ways to more effectively detect, connect and engage their customers, employees and communities to deliver a rich, secure end-user experience via their mobile devices.


Prashanth Shenoy

Vice President of Marketing

Enterprise Networking and Mobility