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Application Visibility & Control: CleanAir at the Applications Level

October 8, 2012 - 2 Comments

The Problem:

There are many challenges IT managers face on a daily basis. As the proliferation of user devices and the growth in business, personal and collaborative applications continue to grow, almost exponentially, these challenges only make the job of an IT manager harder. For instance, imagine what goes through the mind of an IT administrator who is responsible for helping a hospital and medical school get a handle on device and application growth and usage:

  • Is a guest or patient downloading movies using Bit-Torrent –in other words, stealing valuable airtime away from my mission-critical applications?
  • My network supports a mixed use of guests, employees and vendors/doctors. Without prioritizing applications on the network, employees risk losing productivity and response time to patients, insurance providers, labs. Can I prioritize business-class applications such as Cisco Webex/Jabber and de-prioritize the applications such as Netflix?
  • Who are my top 10 users and the top 10 upstream and downstream applications? Can I save a detailed report of all application flows in my network for compliance purposes?
  • The number of devices, number of users is exploding, and use of video is growing 50% year over year. Should I add more access points in my auditorium or conference room areas? Or should I upgrade to 802.11ac for more capacity?

Enter Cisco Application Visibility Control(AVC) integrated into wireless infrastructure.

While I use the medical center as an example, I’m sure you’re asking yourself these same questions about your network. I’m excited to introduce you to Cisco Application Visibility and Control (AVC), fully integrated into Cisco’s wireless networking solutions. Just as CleanAir helps you understand what is happening in your spectrum so you can prioritize and strategize ways to optimize your network spectrum, Cisco AVC is a powerful, pervasive and integrated solution that provides unprecedented visibility and control at the application level. Not only has AVC already been shipping within the ASR 1000 Series and ISR G2 series routers, it has also been proven in the market and deployed worldwide in conjunction with a variety of partners providing netflow collectors. Having AVC’s functionality fully integrated into the wireless network means that an IT administrator can tie it directly into user-based policies and make critical decisions in real-time.

The AVC solution has the following components:

  • Next-generation Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology called NBAR2 which allows for identification and classification of applications.
  • Quality of Service: Ability to remark applications using DiffServ to prioritize and deprioritize the applications
  • A template for Cisco  NetFlow v9 to select and export data of interest
  • Cisco Prime Assurance(Optional) or a third-party Netflow collector of your choice to collect, analyze and save reports for troubleshooting, capacity planning and compliance purposes.

Application Visibility & Control is a market-leading Cisco innovation, with features such as:

  1. Robust, proven NBAR2 library supports a massive (1000+) number of applications. New patches are released periodically to support additional applications. This is similar to the IT administrator adding signatures to the anti-virus tool on a regular basis to keep updated with the latest threats.
  2. Ability to identify and remark on a sub-category level so the IT administrator can differentiate between patients using Google video vs Google mail, Skype Voice vs Video, and place them in different QoS queues. Even when a guest is using encrypted applications, such as Kazaa version 2 or Microsoft Lync, the IT administrator will still be able to identify it, because NBAR2 supports heuristics based classification.

Consistent wired-wireless application visibility on Cisco Prime Infrastructure (Assurance) and 3rd party Netflow collectors allows customers that are already using Netflow collectors to now monitor wireless traffic in conjunction with wired.The following youtube video shows a demo of AVC’s capabilities

This functionality will be available in an upcoming Cisco controller software release. For more information or if youare interested in participating in a beta trial, you can contact your local Cisco sales representative.

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  1. Nice blog!!!…..thnks Cisco

  2. Great blog post! We demonstrated AVC at Interop NY last week and it was very well received. Customers can still see AVC live, in action, at Interop Mumbai this week, as well as Cisco Live Cancun and Educause in Denver, both in early November.