Cisco Bolsters Management Abilities in Borderless Networks

Charlene O'Hanlon

April 19, 2011

4 Min Read
Cisco Bolsters Management Abilities in Borderless Networks

Since introducing its Borderless Networks strategy roughly 18 months ago, Cisco Systems has been rolling out additional and updated features to further the company’s vision of offering an “anyone, anywhere, on any device at any time” experience for end users. Its latest round includes intelligence to assign security policies to individual devices and manage both their networks and their network services simultaneously. Read on for the details.

The latest addition to the Borderless Networks portfolio includes Identity Services Engine, which enables organizations to efficiently define and manage organization-wide security policies. The technology is the central policy engine for Cisco’s TrustSec solution, and offers – among other features – enforcement of a context-aware access security policy. In other words, Joe worker sitting in the local coffee shop won’t be able to get the same access to the network that he would were he sitting in his office because the network will know he’s not in his office but in a public setting.

What’s more, the engine can distinguish between personal devices and company-owned and issued devices, locking down access to certain information based on the device trying to access it. Plus, information that does run over the network is automatically encrypted.

“This technology enables companies to specify powerful policies around users’ devices and applications that are enforced by the switches, routers on the network and even the devices themselves,” said Maciej Kranz, vice president of Borderless Networks at Cisco. “We’re classifying users, identifying and classifying devices and using location-based policies – it simplifies the Borderless Networks strategy, and that’s why customers are so excited about it. From a partner perspective, this is a great opportunity to present Borderless Networks and sell it from an architectural perspective.”

A second addition to the portfolio – Cisco Prime for Enterprise – helps partners further that architectural sales strategy. Cisco Prime for Enterprise enables IT departments to manage their networks and network services from one dashboard, providing a workflow-oriented user experience to simplify network management and realize the associated benefits of central management.

“From a deployment perspective partners now can help their customers with a management infrastructure that is more simplified than what we’ve done before,” Kranz said. “Partners don’t have to sell 50 different tools to manage the network effectively. Now they can use just one to do it.”

Finally, Cisco has added myriad enhancements for managing both voice and video traffic over the network, recognizing the unique attributes of each type of traffic and their impact on the network. The enhancements embed video and voice intelligence in the network so companies can identify and fix any application performance issues in both real-time and in planning scenarios.

“Here at Cisco, 70 percent of our data traffic is consumed by video, which is a pretty telling statistic. As video becomes even more ubiquitous, our partners have said they need a comprehensive set of tools so regardless of where their customer is they can help them,” Kranz said. “These tools not only help management and troubleshooting, users have the ability to put synthetic video traffic on the network to discover bottlenecks, which is a great potential service for partners.”

The voice/video technology also enables for plug-and-play configuration of new devices connecting to Cisco’s Media Services Engine via an agent included in Cisco endpoints.

“It’s really a comprehensive approach to identifying pain points in developing and implementing a networking strategy for end users – how do I ensure the right devices get on the network? How can I simplify the process and optimize user experience? This is an exciting opportunity for partners to add a lot of value to their customers by leveraging the new capabilities for value-added services,” Kranz said.

“A majority of partners are increasingly looking at, How do I build my services on top of these capabilities? Can [Cisco] give me tools and training to build resale infrastructure and the value-add business?” he continued. “We are seeing a shift from fulfillment to consultative architectural selling. Many of these capabilities were designed for that purpose. Now partners can say to their customers, ‘Tell me what your needs are. I can design the policy and infrastructure to meet those needs.’”

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