This sponsored guest is from Cisco Systems and was written by Mark Leary, a Cisco senior strategist and Chief Marketing Officer – Network Systems.
In my last blog, I outlined the three cornerstones of success for Borderless Networks – Workplace Transformation, Technology Leadership, and Operational Excellence. I also offered a detailed view into how Borderless Networks accelerates the transformation of the workplace by enabling the visual, mobile, and in-the-moment user experience.
Let’s now turn our attention to Technology Leadership within the network infrastructure itself. In this always-on ever-connected borderless world, leadership in networking is a critical success factor for all organizations. And no longer is the network judged as a tactical IT-serving utility. Now, it is judged even more critically as a strategic business resource.
Key questions to ask include… How does the network best deliver rich and consistent services? How does the network best protect connected resources and users? And finally, how does the network best adapt to new business demands and absorb new technology advancements? Let’s answer each of these three key questions now.
The Network Best Delivers via a Systems Approach.
The network is a critical business system, with many components required to work as one.
Extensible systems and integrated services combine to multiply the value of the Borderless Network. Cisco’s wide-ranging portfolio allows freedom of choice for the customer. Designed-in hardware assists and a wide range of network and service modules ensure that the network delivers not only rich services, but also provides consistent performance when services are turned on. The Cisco Integrated Services Router (ISR), with its extensive services capabilities, serves as a prime example here. Embedded hardware assists for voice, video, and security processing heighten ISR service capabilities and service quality.
Consistent services and common components also enable cost savings and operational efficiency. Cisco IOS provides a common software base across routing and switching systems. Common sparing and component reuse protects your investment as you expand and enhance your network. The Cisco ASR and ISR serve as good examples here. By design, the ASR makes use of SPAs already in use in customer networks. The recently announced ISR G2 makes use of network and service modules designed for the original Cisco ISR series.
The systems approach also delivers operational efficiency. Management expertise, policies, and practices can be applied across the network. Routine tasks and problem handling can be automated via such key features as Command Line Interface (CLI) scripts, Embedded Event Manager (EEM), and Generic On-Line Diagnostics (GOLD). Further consolidation and control is enabled through centralized management facilities such as CiscoWorks LAN Management System (LMS) and Cisco Wireless Control System (WCS).
Sun said it right in the 80s, “The network is the system.” We couldn’t agree more.
The Network Best Protects via Integrated Security.
Secure access to the network and networked resources is certainly a key area of concern for our customers. Security threats come from every direction – and are ever-changing. Protecting the network – no matter the angle of attack – is a must for every organization in this day and age. In many industries, it is even a regulatory requirement.
Given that threats appear in many forms and along many fronts, it is vital that security mechanisms provide blanket coverage for your network and networked resources. Do you lock all your doors when you leave for vacation? Or just some of them? Blanket coverage requires that security services be in operation across the network infrastructure at all appropriate points of potential attack.
And while these mechanisms must provide for maximum protection, they must also minimize their impact on network service levels. Protection should not sacrifice performance. And performance should not sacrifice protection. Here, Cisco’s systems approach outlined above bears fruit via integrated security services. Networking platforms that are optimized to run security services allow you to “turn on” security without driving down network service levels.
To further ease the impact of security across the network, central policies and consistent management interfaces allow the network operator to enforce security without having to commit to micro-managing security functions and secured users and resources. Here, the key is to balance effective security enforcement with efficient security administration. The goal: Provide full protection for your network and full productivity for your support staff.
Cisco TrustSec serves as a good example of an effective and efficient security service at work across the Borderless Network. TrustSec dynamically assigns access and services for users and devices and ensures that endpoint devices are authorized and healthy via consistent, network-wide security policy enforcement. TrustSec also helps address compliance requirements by providing access control to sensitive and valuable information and assets, collecting user activity and history data, as well as providing end-to-end monitoring and reporting capabilities.
Beyond TrustSec, Cisco further strengthens your security stance across many critical – and vulnerable — fronts. For example, Cisco AnyConnect extends access security to mobile users and their device of choice. The Cisco Virtual Office provides a complete teleworker solution, enabling full productivity and protection for the remote worker. Other security solutions target such key requirements as threat defense, data loss prevention, and PCI compliance.
When securing your network, it is also vital to remember that success is as much determined by solid processes as it is by strong products. Cisco’s unmatched portfolio of security support services run the gamut – from assessment to deployment to optimization to ongoing remote operations. In addition, Cisco also provides for proven secure network designs via Cisco’s Design Zone for Security, a wealth of security guidance and resources via Cisco Security Center, and rapid reaction to threats via PSIRT Advisories.
In this connected age, you must provide the most freedom and greatest flexibility for your users. While at the same time, you must exercise absolute control over connected resources – and all who wish to use and abuse these resources.
The Network Best Adapts via Continual Innovation.
In today’s world, continual network innovation is vital to achieving IT and business goals.
Cisco spends $5B+ in annual R&D on the network. Worldwide, 30 major labs and 20,000 engineers are dedicated to network technology and product development. We are a networking company. It is what we do. This focused and unmatched level of investment keeps us in front of not only our competitors, but more importantly, our customers looking to always do more with their network.
Evidence of this effort can be seen along two critical fronts – network standards and network service intelligence. Cisco has been at the forefront of driving the advancement and adoption of industry standards. Standards pioneered by Cisco read like a Who’s Who in networking technologies. Fast Ethernet, Power over Ethernet, SIP, CAPWAP, and MPLS… just to name a few. (See white paper.)
Cisco is also at the forefront of driving intelligent networks. Security, mobility, application networking, voice, video, network automation, and now even energy management all extend the capabilities and business impact of the network. These intelligent services are core to the Borderless Network Architecture. And they are core to the innovation that Cisco delivers to the network and to customers.
Witness the future unfolding within our IPv6 capabilities or our strong 802.11n portfolio. Witness the sustainability gains offered by Cisco EnergyWise and Cisco Virtual Office. Customers are saving money and promoting sustainable business practices by controlling their energy consumption and making the best use of their facilities. With Borderless Networks, everything is possible.
Is your organization leading or lagging in networking? Is your network ready for anything? Or afraid of everything? Does your network allow your organization to jump at or shrink from new opportunities? Let us know where your network stands.