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Posts with #networking tag

Self-Defending Network ---System's Approach to Information Security

July 2 2012 , Written by Cisco & Cisco Router, Network Switch Published on #Networking

With a Cisco Self-Defending Network, security is integrated into the network, throughout the infrastructure and protecting each endpoint. This approach is:

  • Integrated: Every element in the network acts as a point of defense
  • Adaptive: Innovative behavioral methods automatically recognize and adapt to new types of threats as they arise
  • Collaborative: Various network components work together to provide new means of protection 


Cisco-ASA-5500-services-Adaptive-Security-Appliances.gifMultifunction Security management
At Perimeter

Cisco ASA 5500 services Adaptive Security Appliances
Cisco ASA 5500 Series Adaptive Security Appliances are easy-to-deploy solutions that integrate world-class firewall, Unified Communications (voice/video) security, SSL and IPSec VPN, intrusion prevention (IPS), and content security services in a flexible, modular product family. Designed as a key component of the Cisco Self-Defending Network, the Cisco ASA 5500 Series provides intelligent threat defense and secure communications services that stop attacks at the perimeter before they impact business continuity.

Anti-X Services

The CSC SSM module which fits in a ASA provides comprehensive antivirus, anti-spyware, file blocking, anti-spam, anti-phishing, url filtering and content filtering.

 

Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)
An integral part of the Cisco Self-Defending Network and Cisco Threat Control solutions, the Cisco Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) provides end-to-end protection for your network. This inline, network-based defense can identify, classify, and stop known and unknown threats, including worms, network viruses, application threats, system intrusion attempts, and application misuse. The appliances provide a range of performance, from 80 Mbps up to 8 Gbps, IPS works on latest signature database and these signatures refer to malicious traffic patterns. The signature updates is and yearly subscription service covered by cisco contract. The above can be achieved in two ways


IPS Module within ASA firewallIPS-Module-within-ASA-firewall.gif

IPS features can also be available with ASA by using the AIP-SSM. .It monitors and prevents the malicious traffic passing through ASA to the internal network.

 



IPS-Appliance.gifIPS Appliance

It is an appliance suitable to handle one or more networks with its ports configurable as inline pair. If anti-X (CSC –SSM) is deployed in ASA then IPS module can’t be deployed and one has to rely on IPS appliance for the Intrusion Prevention.

Note: Future versions of ASA will support Anti-X & IPS functionality.

Iron-port
The world’s leading email security appliance covered under Cisco security Portfolio. It is ideally placed between firewall and email server so that it acts as an ‘shock absorber” for all incoming mails.

Iron Port Email security appliances uses multi-layer filtering technology which includes reputation and context based filtering.



At Core

6500-chassis-based-FWSM-module.jpg6500 chassis based FWSM module
The Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Firewall Services Module (FWSM) which fits in the 6500 chassis allowing customers to benefit from industry-leading innovations, including:

  1. Leading scalability and performance

100,000 connections/sec and 2.8 million pps

  1. Unprecedented security protection at Layers 2–7

Private VLAN integration between the FWSM and the Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series for ease of policy deployment

Advanced firewall capabilities, including application and protocol inspections

  1. Every port within the chassis becomes a security port
    Every FWSM works in tandem with other modules in the chassis to deliver robust security throughout the entire chassis.
  2. New services can be deployed with minimal operational complexity.The integrated approach of the Cisco FWSM integrates virtualization and high availability. Solutions are enhanced through complementary functions.

 

End point security
Cisco Security agent

Cisco Security Agent It is the first endpoint security solution that combines zero-update attack protection, data loss prevention, and signature-based anti-virus in a single agent. This unique blend of capabilities defends servers and desktops against sophisticated day-zero attacks, and enforces acceptable-use and compliance policies within a simple management infrastructure. Cisco Security Agent also comes with clam antivirus, to provide protection against virus.

 

Network Admission Control
NAC provides us complete control over the network. Cisco Network Admission Control (NAC) allows only compliant and trusted endpoint with predefined security postures, such as PCs, servers, and PDAs, onto the network, restricting the access of noncompliant devices, and thereby limiting the potential damage from emerging security threats and risks

Monitoring, Analysis and Response System (MARS)
An appliance-based solution that correlates data from across the enterprise and uses your existing network and security investments to identify, isolate, and recommend precision removal of offending elements. MARS, when used in conjunction with Cisco IPS Sensor software v5, provides a total collaborative solution, protecting your entire network infrastructure from attacks, viruses, worms, and other malicious traffic.

Cisco Security Manager
Cisco Security Manager is an enterprise-class management application designed to configure firewall, VPN, and intrusion prevention (IPS) security services on Cisco network and security devices. Cisco Security Manager can be used in networks of all sizes—from small networks to large networks consisting of thousands of devices—by using policy-based management techniques. Cisco Security Manager works in conjunction with the Cisco Security Monitoring, Analysis, and Response System (MARS). Used together, Computech Engineers provide a comprehensive security management solution that addresses configuration management, security monitoring, analysis, and mitigation.

 

More Network Security Info and Tips: http://blog.router-switch.com/category/networking-2/

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Cisco Projects 18-Fold Growth in Global Mobile Internet Data Traffic By 2016

June 14 2012 , Written by Cisco & Cisco Router, Network Switch Published on #Networking

Mobile Cloud Traffic to Account for 71 Percent, or 7.6 Exabytes per Month, of Total Mobile Data Traffic by 2016, Compared to 45 Percent, or 269 Petabytes per Month, in 2011

 

According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2011 to 2016, worldwide mobile data traffic will increase 18-fold over the next five years, reaching 10.8 exabytes per month — or an annual run rate of 130 exabytes — by 2016.mobiletraffic.jpg

 

The expected sharp increase in mobile traffic is due, in part, to a projected surge in the number of mobile Internet – connected devices, which will exceed the number of people on earth (2016 world population estimate of 7.3 billion; source: United Nations). During 2011−2016 Cisco anticipates that global mobile data traffic will outgrow global fixed data traffic by three times.

 

The forecast predicts an annual run rate of 130 exabytes of mobile data traffic, equivalent to:

33 billion DVDs.

4.3 quadrillion MP3 files (music/audio).

813 quadrillion short message service (SMS) text messages.

An exabyte is a unit of information or computer storage equal to 1 quintillion bytes.

 

This mobile data traffic increase represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 78 percent spanning the forecast period. The incremental amount of traffic being added to the mobile Internet between 2015 and 2016 alone is approximately three times the estimated size of the entire mobile Internet in 2012. The following trends are driving these significant increases:

 

1. More Streamed Content: With the consumer expectations increasingly requiring on-demand or streamed content versus simply downloaded content, mobile cloud traffic will increase, growing 28-fold from 2011 to 2016, a CAGR of 95 percent.

 

2. More Mobile Connections: There will be more than 10 billion mobile Internet-connected devices in 2016, including machine-to-machine (M2M) modules — exceeding the world’s projected population at that time of 7.3 billion. (One M2M application is the use of wireless networks to update digital billboards. This allows advertisers to display different messages based on time of day or day-of-week and allows quick global changes for messages, such as pricing changes for gasoline).

 

3. Enhanced Computing of Devices: Mobile devices are becoming more powerful and thus able to consume and generate more data traffic. Tablets are a prime example of this trend generating traffic levels that will grow 62-fold from 2011 to 2016 — the highest growth rate of any device category tracked in the forecast. The amount of mobile data traffic generated by tablets in 2016 (1 exabyte per month) will be four times the total amount of monthly global mobile data traffic in 2010 (237 petabytes per month).

 

4. Faster Mobile Speeds: Mobile network connection speed is a key enabler for mobile data traffic growth. More speed means more consumption, and Cisco projects mobile speeds (including 2G, 3G and 4G networks) to increase nine-fold from 2011 to 2016.

5. More Mobile Video: Mobile users want the best experiences they can have and that generally means mobile video, which will comprise 71 percent of all mobile data traffic by 2016.

 

The Cisco study also projects that 71 percent of all smartphones and tablets (1.6 billion) could be capable of connecting to an Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) mobile network by 2016. From a broader perspective, 39 percent of all global mobile devices (more than 4 billion), could be IPv6-capable by 2016.

 

Impact of Mobile Devices/Connections

a. The increasing number of wireless devices and nodes accessing mobile networks worldwide is the primary contributor to traffic growth. By 2016, there will be more than 8 billion handheld or personal mobile-ready devices and nearly 2 billion machine-to-machine connections, such as GPS systems in cars, asset tracking systems in shipping and manufacturing sectors and medical applications for making patient records more readily available.

 

b. Smartphones, laptops and other portable devices will drive about 90 percent of global mobile data traffic by 2016.

 

c. M2M traffic will represent 5 percent of 2016 global mobile data traffic while residential broadband mobile gateways will account for the remaining 5 percent of global mobile data traffic.

---Original resources from m2mworldnews.com


More Cisco News:

Cisco Unveils Mobile Visual Collaboration Tech in a Post-PC Era

Cisco: What Mobile Internet Traffic Will Look Like by 2016?

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OSI Model vs. Cisco Three-Layered Hierarchical Model

May 11 2012 , Written by Cisco & Cisco Router, Network Switch Published on #Networking

 

The ISO, International Organization for Standardization is the Emily Post of the network protocol world. Just like Ms. Post, who wrote the book setting the standards or protocols for human social interaction, the ISO developed the OSI model as the precedent and guide for an open network protocol set. Defining the etiquette of communication models, it remains today the most popular means of comparison for protocol suites.

OSI layers are defined as top down such as:

  • The Application layer
  • The Presentation layer
  • The Session layer
  • The Transport layer
  • The Network layer
  • The Data Link layer
  • The Physical layer

 

Cisco Hierarchical ModelOSI-Model-vs.-Cisco-Three-Layered-Hierarchical-Model.jpg

Hierarchy has many of the same benefits in network design that it does in other areas of life. When used properly, it makes networks more predictable. It helps us define at which levels of hierarchy we should perform certain functions. Likewise, you can use tools such as access lists at certain levels in hierarchical networks and avoid them at others.

Large networks can be extremely complicated, with multiple protocols, detailed configurations, and diverse technologies. Hierarchy helps us summarize a complex collection of details into an understandable model. Then, as specific configurations are needed, the model dictates the appropriate manner to apply them.

The Cisco hierarchical model can help you design, implement, and maintain a scalable, reliable, cost-effective hierarchical internetwork.

The following are the three layers:

  • The Core layer or Backbone
  • The Distribution layer
  • The Access layer

Each layer has specific responsibilities. However, that the three layers are logical and are not necessarily physical devices. Consider the OSI model, another logical hierarchy. The seven layers describe functions but not necessarily protocols. Sometimes a protocol maps to more than one layer of the OSI model, and sometimes multiple protocols communicate within a single layer. In the same way, when we build physical implementations of hierarchical networks, we may have many devices in a single layer, or we might have a single device performing functions at two layers. The definition of the layers is logical, not physical.

Now, let's take a closer look at each of the layers.

 

The Core Layer

The core layer is literally the Internet backbone. At the top of the hierarchy, the core layer is responsible for transporting large amounts of traffic both reliably and quickly. The only purpose of the network's core layer is to switch traffic as fast as possible. The traffic transported across the core is common to a majority of users. However, remember that user data is processed at the distribution layer, which forwards the requests to the core if needed.

If there is a failure in the core, every user can be affected. Therefore, fault tolerance at this layer is an issue. The core is likely to see large volumes of traffic, so speed and latency are driving concerns here. Given the function of the core, we can now consider some design specifics. Let's start with something we don't want to do.

  • Don't do anything to slow down traffic. This includes using access lists, routing between virtual local area networks, and packet filtering.
  • Don't support workgroup access here.
  • Avoid expanding the core when the internetwork grows. If performance becomes an issue in the core, give preference to upgrades over expansion.

Now, there are a few things that we want to do as we design the core. They include the following:

  • Design the core for high reliability. Consider data-link technologies that facilitate both speed and redundancy, such as FDDI, Fast Ethernet, or even ATM.
  • Design with speed in mind. The core should have very little latency.
  • Select routing protocols with lower convergence times. Fast and redundant data-link connectivity is no help if your routing tables are shot.

 

The Distribution Layer

The distribution layer is sometimes referred to as the workgroup layer and is the major communication point between the access layer and the core. The primary function of the distribution layer is to provide routing, filtering, and WAN access and to determine how packets can access the core, if needed.

The distribution layer must determine the fastest way that network service requests are handled; for example, how a file request is forwarded to a server. After the distribution layer determines the best path, it forwards the request to the core layer. The core layer then quickly transports the request to the correct service.

The distribution layer is the place to implement policies for the network. Here you can exercise considerable flexibility in defining network operation. There are several items that generally should be done at the distribution layer such as:

  • Implementation of tools such as access lists, of packet filtering, and of queuing
  • Implementation of security and network policies including firewalls
  • Redistribution between routing protocols, including static routing
  • Routing between VLANs and other workgroup support functions
  • Definitions of broadcast and multicast domains

Things to avoid at this layer are limited to those functions that exclusively belong to one of the other layers.

 

The Access Layer

The access layer controls user and workgroup access to internetwork resources. The access layer is sometimes referred to as the desktop layer. The network resources most users need will be available locally. The distribution layer handles any traffic for remote services.

The following are some of the functions to be included at the access layer:

  • Continued access control and policies
  • Creation of separate collision domains
  • Workgroup connectivity into the distribution layer through layer 2 switching

Technologies such as DDR and Ethernet switching are frequently seen in the access layer. Static routing is seen here as well. As already noted, three separate levels does not imply three separate routers. It could be fewer, or it could be more. Remember, this is a layered approach.

---Original Resource from tech-faq.com

 

More Related Cisco Network Readings:

Cisco Network: the Cisco 3-Layered Hierarchical Model

 

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Online Shopping Habits Vary across Countries

March 30 2012 , Written by Cisco & Cisco Router, Network Switch Published on #Networking

The fact that online shoppers in China are three times more likely to desire a clear return policy than online shoppers in the United States should suggest to e-commerce businesses that a universal payment platform will not necessarily translate to all shoppers in different countries. A recent survey found that while online shopping itself may be a nearly universal behavior, and habits differ slightly based on nationality.

Cisco-network.jpg

Pitney Bowes Inc. found that while shopping online is almost universal – 93 percent of those surveyed had purchased products online and nearly half said they had done so in the previous month – there were slight variations in feelings toward prices, selection of products, the checkout process, the shipping process and shipping costs.

For example, French consumers are seven times more likely to want to actively track an order than Japanese consumers, while Canadian consumers were half as likely to care about an accurate delivery date than either Chinese and South Korean consumers.

" … To be successful, retailers need to ensure they can offer a simple and seamless online shopping experience, and have a clear understanding of consumers’ purchasing, shipping and communications preferences in each market," said Pitney Bowes's Jay Oxton in a press release.

In an increasingly globalized world, the internet transcends traditional boundaries, providing companies that accept credit cards online a tremendous opportunity to bolster international sales. An Internet World Stats survey estimates that nearly one-third of the world's population use the internet, so business owners must thoroughly understand their clientele.

Any payment platform must address the desires of as many customers as possible, so companies should consider customer service when choosing a merchant account manager. Established companies that feel they may be lagging in customer service should conduct a payment processing review can help a company determine areas in which it needs to improves its customer service.  

 

---Original reading: patriciaweberconsulting.com

More Related Reading: What’s Your Habit While Shopping or Shopping Online?

2011 Consumer Survey: Global Consumer Shopping Habits

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What Cloud Computing Exact is?

March 29 2012 , Written by Cisco & Cisco Router, Network Switch Published on #Networking

Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet).

Cloud_computing.jpg

 

Cloud computing entrusts, typically centalized, services with your data, software, and computation on a published application programming interface (API) over a network. It has a lot of overlap with software as a service (SaaS).

End users access cloud based applications through a web browser or a light weight desktop or mobile app while the business software and data are stored on servers at a remote location. Cloud application providers strive to give the same or better service and performance than if the software programs were installed locally on end-user computers.

At the foundation of cloud computing is the broader concept of infrastructure convergence (or Converged Infrastructure) and shared services. This type of data centre environment allows enterprises to get their applications up and running faster, with easier manageability and less maintenance, and enables IT to more rapidly adjust IT resources (such as servers, storage, and networking) to meet fluctuating and unpredictable business demand.

 

Cloud computing shares characteristics with:

Autonomic computing—Computer systems capable of self-management.

Client–server model—Client–server computing refers broadly to any distributed application that distinguishes between service providers (servers) and service requesters (clients).

Grid computing—"A form of distributed and parallel computing, whereby a 'super and virtual computer' is composed of a cluster of networked, loosely coupled computers acting in concert to perform very large tasks."

Mainframe computer—Powerful computers used mainly by large organizations for critical applications, typically bulk data processing such as census, industry and consumer statistics, police and secret intelligence services, enterprise resource planning, and financial transaction processing.

Utility computing—The "packaging of computing resources, such as computation and storage, as a metered service similar to a traditional public utility, such as electricity."

Peer-to-peer—Distributed architecture without the need for central coordination, with participants being at the same time both suppliers and consumers of resources (in contrast to the traditional client–server model).

 

Characteristics

Cloud computing exhibits the following key characteristics:

Empowerment of end-users of computing resources by putting the provisioning of those resources in their own control, as opposed to the control of a centralized IT service (for example)

Agility improves with users' ability to re-provision technological infrastructure resources.

Application programming interface (API) accessibility to software that enables machines to interact with cloud software in the same way the user interface facilitates interaction between humans and computers. Cloud computing systems typically use REST-based APIs.

Cost is claimed to be reduced and in a public cloud delivery model capital expenditure is converted to operational expenditure. This is purported to lower barriers to entry, as infrastructure is typically provided by a third-party and does not need to be purchased for one-time or infrequent intensive computing tasks. Pricing on a utility computing basis is fine-grained with usage-based options and fewer IT skills are required for implementation (in-house).

Device and location independence enable users to access systems using a web browser regardless of their location or what device they are using (e.g., PC, mobile phone). As infrastructure is off-site (typically provided by a third-party) and accessed via the Internet, users can connect from anywhere.

Virtualization technology allows servers and storage devices to be shared and utilization be increased. Applications can be easily migrated from one physical server to another.

 

Multi-tenancy enables sharing of resources and costs across a large pool of users thus allowing for:

Centralization of infrastructure in locations with lower costs (such as real estate, electricity, etc.)

Peak-load capacity increases (users need not engineer for highest possible load-levels)

Utilisation and efficiency improvements for systems that are often only 10–20% utilised.

 

Reliability is improved if multiple redundant sites are used, which makes well-designed cloud computing suitable for business continuity and disaster recovery.

Scalability and Elasticity via dynamic ("on-demand") provisioning of resources on a fine-grained, self-service basis near real-time, without users having to engineer for peak loads.

Performance is monitored, and consistent and loosely coupled architectures are constructed using web services as the system interface.

Security could improve due to centralization of data, increased security-focused resources, etc., but concerns can persist about loss of control over certain sensitive data, and the lack of security for stored kernels. Security is often as good as or better than other traditional systems, in part because providers are able to devote resources to solving security issues that many customers cannot afford. However, the complexity of security is greatly increased when data is distributed over a wider area or greater number of devices and in multi-tenant systems that are being shared by unrelated users. In addition, user access to security audit logs may be difficult or impossible. Private cloud installations are in part motivated by users' desire to retain control over the infrastructure and avoid losing control of information security.

Maintenance of cloud computing applications is easier, because they do not need to be installed on each user's computer and can be accessed from different places.

 

Service Models

Service-Models.png

 

Cloud computing providers offer their services according to three fundamental models: Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS) where IaaS is the most basic and each higher model abstracts from the details of the lower models.

 

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

In this most basic cloud service model, cloud providers offer computers – as physical or more often as virtual machines –, raw (block) storage, firewalls, load balancers, and networks. IaaS providers supply these resources on demand from their large pools installed in data centers. Local area networks including IP addresses are part of the offer. For the wide area connectivity, the Internet can be used or - in carrier clouds - dedicated virtual private networks can be configured. 

To deploy their applications, cloud users then install operating system images on the machines as well as their application software. In this model, it is the cloud user who is responsible for patching and maintaining the operating systems and application software. Cloud providers typically bill IaaS services on a utility computing basis, that is, cost will reflect the amount of resources allocated and consumed.

 

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

In the PaaS model, cloud providers deliver a computing platform and/or solution stack typically including operating system, programming language execution environment, database, and web server. Application developers can develop and run their software solutions on a cloud platform without the cost and complexity of buying and managing the underlying hardware and software layers. With some PaaS offers, the underlying compute and storage resources scale automatically to match application demand such that the cloud user does not have to allocate resources manually.

 

Software as a Service (SaaS)

In this model, cloud providers install and operate application software in the cloud and cloud users access the software from cloud clients. The cloud users do not manage the cloud infrastructure and platform on which the application is running. This eliminates the need to install and run the application on the cloud user's own computers simplifying maintenance and support. What makes a cloud application different from other applications is its elasticity. This can be achieved by cloning tasks onto multiple virtual machines at run-time to meet the changing work demand. Load balancers distribute the work over the set of virtual machines. This process is transparent to the cloud user who sees only a single access point. To accomodate a large number of cloud users, cloud applications can be multitenant, that is, any machine serves more than one cloud user organization. It is common to refer to special types of cloud based application software with a similar naming convention: desktop as a service, business process as a service, Test Environment as a Service, communication as a service.

 

Cloud clients

Users access cloud computing using networked client devices, such as desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Some of these devices - cloud clients - rely on cloud computing for all or a majority of their applications so as to be essentially useless without it. Examples are thin clients and the browser-based Chromebook. Many cloud applications do not require specific software on the client and instead use a web browser to interact with the cloud application. With Ajax and HTML5 these Web user interfaces can achieve a similar or even better look and feel as native applications. Some cloud applications, however, support specific client software dedicated to these applications (e.g., virtual desktop clients and most email clients). Some legacy applications (line of business applications that until now have been prevalent in thin client Windows computing) are delivered via a screen-sharing technology.

 

Deployment models

Public cloud

Applications, storage, and other resources are made available to the general public by a service provider. Public cloud services may be free or offered on a pay-per-usage model. There are limited service providers like Microsoft, Google etc owns all Infrastructure at their Data Center and the access will be through Internet mode only. No direct connectivity proposed in Public Cloud Architecture.

 

Community cloud

Community cloud shares infrastructure between several organizations from a specific community with common concerns (security, compliance, jurisdiction, etc.), whether managed internally or by a third-party and hosted internally or externally. The costs are spread over fewer users than a public cloud (but more than a private cloud), so only some of the cost savings potential of cloud computing are realized.

 

Hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud is a composition of two or more clouds (private, community or public) that remain unique entities but are bound together, offering the benefits of multiple deployment models.

 

Private cloud

Private cloud is infrastructure operated solely for a single organization, whether managed internally or by a third-party and hosted internally or externally.

They have attracted criticism because users "still have to buy, build, and manage them" and thus do not benefit from less hands-on management, essentially "[lacking] the economic model that makes cloud computing such an intriguing concept".

 

NOTES: More info of Cloud Computing, such as history of Cloud computing, Cloud engineering, Issues about Cloud Computing including Privacy, Compliance, Security, etc., you can visit wikipedia.org---Cloud Computing

More Related: CloudVerse: Cisco Storms into the Cloud Market

 

 

 

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Are You Really Clear about What Your Customers’ Need?

February 28 2012 , Written by Cisco & Cisco Router, Network Switch Published on #Networking

Are you really clear about what your customers ’need? A Cisco staff shared his experience in communicating with his customer. In fact, in a way, the same customer’s need is so different in different Cisco staff’s eyes. But the key is to point out the Cisco clients’ problems, and then pay attention to their need.

 

Cisco staff named Stephen Speirs shared his case as follows:

How a Customer Crisis Ten Years Ago Helped Me Understand the Challenges of Cloud Service Creation Today

If you are already offering cloud services from your data center, or are starting your planning to do so, there are some key initial questions I’d advise you consider.  And they’re not about the technical aspects of data center architecture!  You find yourself asking “what cloud services should we offer?” and “How do we evolve what we offer today”.  You may, post launch, also find yourself asking “Why is the take up to our cloud services not as big as we initially forecast?”  Before you say “aha - these are questions for service providers offering cloud services”.. I would argue that these questions are fundamental to enterprise and public sector organizations too -- assuming that you intend to provide cloud services to your user community that help them do their jobs.  Following one of my colleagues who blogged earlier that, with cloud services, “you need to think like a product manager”, I will assert here that there are some key lessons from product management that can help you in creating cloud services that are actually useful to your customer and/or your internal clients and stakeholders.

 

As you may have noticed from my previous blogs, I’ve worked in product management of both products and services for a while (since 1997 in fact, when I moved from software engineering into the “dark side”) …. so what lessons have I learned that may help you address the challenges of creating and defining new cloud services?

 

If you are starting a journey to cloud, offering services from your data center – either to internal stakeholders as in the case of an enterprise business, or to external customers as a service provider would do – you should find yourself asking “what cloud services should we offer?” … and if you are already offering cloud services, you may find yourself asking “why isn’t the take up to our cloud services not as big as we’d hoped?”

 

My story around this is very clearly etched in my mind: it really was a “light-bulb” moment in my product management education. I was at a meeting with a customer at their R&D labs.

It was the 4th or 5th such meeting around the product (which so happened to be an Element Management System (EMS) – a type of network management software application.  I wasn’t directly responsible for this EMS, however I had been involved in one of the early requirements meetings.   I remember watching as a senior product manager from Cisco, and a representative from the customer (who I will now call “the customer”, although later I recognized that he was only one), reviewed the Product Requirements Document (PRD) – the document that specifies exactly what the product should and should not do -- and, page by page, signed off the document as being exactly what the customer wanted.  I was relatively new to product management then, and wow, this guy was a senior product manager, this was an impressive process, we need to start doing this in my team, and this must be the way to do things .. and so on.  I was impressed!

 

And so my lessons began …. 

 

Anyway, time went on, and the product was developed and delivered, and since I was based close to the customer, I was called on to help when the product clearly wasn’t meeting the customer expectations.  Sure, there were a few quality issues after the first release or two, but these were eventually ironed out.  Yet the customer came back and reported that his operations team still weren’t using this EMS.  We went through 3 or 4 meetings, where spreadsheet after spreadsheet of feature requests was brought back to us by the customer, with the consistent message -- “if you could implement some of these features, we would use this”.  And so it went on.  And still they didn’t use the EMS.

 

Time passed and we were back at the customer labs, for another meeting.  The primary customer contact had organised for us to meet the operations manager, whose team were the target users.  The ops manager rushed in late, and what he said next really concisely communicated what he really needed: “Sorry” he said, “we’ve just lost an Internet PoP [Point of Presence, or Central Office] and our network is at risk of collapse from the sudden increase in web traffic.  I’ve only got 10 minutes to spend with you, sorry for dragging you here.  I really don’t like you guys”, he continued, “I can’t upgrade our network because of you”.

 

In one sentence, he described his problem.  And the EMS, while it satisfied many of his “requirements”, didn’t solve his main operational headache sufficiently.  The EMS did have some software download features to help with network upgrades, but they didn’t support the large scale operational procedures this customer used to upgrade their network in a robust and cost effective manner.

 

This was a key moment in my product management learning and experience – think customer problems first, requirements second -- and indeed helped my team and I re-think our approach to the market completely (and subsequently devised a multi-award winning

product for troubleshooting MPLS networks).

 

An additional aspect was the organisational divide between our main contact in the customer and the operations team. Basically these two individuals were in different groups within the customer, and to be honest, didn’t communicate very often.  So we also missed the organisational silos that can – unfortunately -- happen in large organisations.

 

This brings me to one of the fundamental lessons of product management – the “tyre swing” analogy below – which is as relevant to cloud service creation as it was to my example above.   And I’ll discuss this more in part 2 of this blog!

 

In the meantime, if you want to find out more on Cisco Data Center Services and how we can help you develop and implement your cloud computing strategy, please check out our Cisco Cloud Enablement Services - and (of course!) have a read through some of my previous blogs.

Cisco-Cloud-Enablement-Services-copy-1.jpg

 

The Tyre Swing Analogy: How Different Users Perceive Differently the Customer Needs

 

---Original blog from How a Customer Crisis Ten Years Ago Helped Me Understand the Challenges of Cloud Service Creation Today


 

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Cisco on UC for SMBs

October 26 2011 , Written by Cisco & Cisco Router, Network Switch Published on #Networking

Cisco is well known for its networking prowess and commitment to Unified Communications (UC) for the enterprise.  What may be less known is its equally deep commitment to UC for SMBs.  According to Cisco, SMBs can benefit from UC in several ways including;

  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Business Process Integration
  • Increased Productivity

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Mark Monday, Vice President and General Manager, Cisco’s Small Business Technology Group, to learn more about Cisco’s view of UC and the SMB market. 

TR: SMBs are often without technical specialists, so can you give us a plain English overview of UC?

Monday: Cisco has a small business technology group, and an effort around small business, is because we understand that they typically don’t have an IT professional on staff.  In fact, most of them go out of house for IT services in some way.  So they’re getting that IT professional service from a service provider or maybe even a local VAR in their community.  The question about UC for SMBs is really a combination of IP telephony and the ability to take that traffic, that IP phone call, and do something different with it than you might be able to do with a normal phone system.  For instance, capture voice mail and send it to your e-mail, thereby enabling you to use that information in multiple ways once it’s in your e-mail As examples, you might forward it or store it as text.  So, UC really brings together IP, telephony, and some of the applications used within the framework of the SMB all together into a solution.

 

TR: Where does Cisco fit in to this picture?

Monday: Cisco’s Small Business Technology Group primarily works with our channel partners who serve the customer.

Today, in the SMB sphere, we’re really seeing two primary methods used to get to UC.  They’re typically trading out an older phone system, usually a key system, which was probably acquired before the year 2000.  These systems have aged out in many ways such as expired warranties. Most SMBs are now moving to some sort of UC via either a service, operated by a service provider who offers them what might be defined as a hosted system, or a new premises-based UC system such as a Cisco UC 300 or UC 500.  While hosted services is a growing business it’s still a fraction of the premises-based implementations.

 

TR: UC is rapidly replacing POTS/PBXs at the enterprise level and you’ve stated that SMBs are moving to UC, but from my experience many seem reluctant.  What do you most often hear as their reasons for not implementing UC?

Monday: I haven’t really found a customer who doesn’t want to implement UC.  Then it’s a question of balancing the intensity of the requirement against the costs of acquisition, implementation and ongoing support. In these uncertain economic times, the value proposition has to be compelling.  I tend to see that everybody wants UC; the question is, when they move to it.

 

TR: Is there a generalized cost/benefit rule of thumb that SMBs can apply when evaluating UC?

Monday: Yes. There’s lots of that kind of material available on our own web-site and through our partners. Our partners tend to be able to walk in the customer’s door and walk them through a compelling ROI to move to a UC solution. A cost benefit example is that the new technologies use a different sort of trunking verses the older technology which required specific and specialized trunk for different features (e.g. separate phone lines and data lines).  Now all of that service can be supported on one single line so you can use your data connection for your phone through what’s called SIP trunking.  The immediate benefit is the cost saving from reducing your number and variety of trunks to one.

 

TR: I know that each implementation is different for a variety of factors so you can’t give us a blanket price, but what about benefits? What are the most common benefits received by SMBs who implement a UC solution?

Monday: One of the biggest benefits we see with our SMB customers is the ability to have an off-premises extension [OPX] to a home office at virtually no network cost because the home usually already has an Internet connection.  Although this may be possible with legacy telephone systems, implementation is generally difficult and prohibitively expensive. With UC today it’s possible today to take a phone home and connect it through a secure tunnel back to the office.  This way the phone at home behaves as though it’s your desktop phone at work, as a shared line, or a unique number at home.  So you can have someone working from home that needs to participate in the office business, but is unable to come into the office.  This same capability can be easily extended to temporary locations such as a vacation home.

  

TR: How do people find our more?

Monday: I encourage Cisco customers to connect with a service provider or local Cisco channel partner of ours.  Of course, people can visit http://www.cisco.com/go/smb to get a personal sense of what Cisco solutions can do for their business.

 

TR: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Monday: We truly want to encourage SMBs to take advantage of the technologies that are available. We recognize that there haven’t been a lot of purpose built solutions for SMBs in the past. At Cisco we’ve learned from our successes with enterprise systems and leveraged that knowledge to develop rock-solid, purpose-built SMB solutions. So we can take some of the pain away, if you will, and deliver enterprise like technology to SMBs

---Original sources from telecomreseller.com--Jeff Owen

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