Cisco's Latest Networking Products Ease Transition to Cloud Computing

 
 
By Robert J. Mullins  |  Posted 2012-06-13
 
 
 

Cisco Systems has introduced a portfolio of equipment, software and services to address the performance challenges that enterprises face when they try to adopt cloud computing in their IT organizations.

At its Cisco Live user conference June 12 in San Diego, executives of the networking giant unveiled the Cisco Cloud Connected Solution, which they said includes cloud-enabled routing wide area network (WAN) optimization platforms, along with what they called Cloud Connector software and services for customers to securely connect to private, public or hybrid cloud environments.

The Cloud Connected portfolio is divided into three groups.

First, Cisco is introducing Cloud Connectors, new software that runs in the company€™s Integrated Services Router (ISR) G2 platform, that helps improve the performance, security and availability of cloud applications. In addition, given the open architecture of the software, cloud service providers and channel partners can customize their routers to add unique features.

Secondly, a new Cisco Cloud Services Router (CSR) is a virtual router that enables customers to extend their virtual private networks (VPNs) into the cloud. Cisco is also adding to its Aggregation Services Router (ASR) platform with the new Cisco ASR 1002-X router, and introducing the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) E-Series Server Modules on the ISR G2. The new hardware is designed to deliver cloud connectivity to branch offices of an organization by hosting multiple third-party services on a single branch platform.

Thirdly, Cisco is introducing new capabilities for WAN optimization services, including Application Visibility and Control (AVC) into its ISR and ASR platforms to monitor and troubleshoot cloud-delivered applications. In addition, new Cisco AppNav technology combines Cisco's Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) for both physical and virtual appliances into a single resource pool that can be centrally managed.

While cloud computing gives users a lower-cost, flexible and scalable computing environment where they can spend less time managing and maintaining software and hardware, there are some challenges it imposes, Cisco said. There can be particularly high latency when users access applications from the distant data center of a cloud provider along with higher bandwidth demands and concerns about control and security of data.

€œEvery keystroke goes back to the cloud in a VDI environment,€ said Praveen Akkiraju, senior vice president and general manager of the Cisco Services Routing Technology Group, during a news conference streamed live online from the conference.

€œIT departments are feeling a loss of visibility and control [with cloud], but at the same time, they are the first ones to get a call when an application€™s performance is impacted,€ said Akkiraju.

The focus on cloud computing and other popular trends in IT€”like mobility, increasing use of video, and support for the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon in which workers bring their own computers and tablets to the office to run on the corporate network€”stems from Cisco€™s core philosophy of adapting to the €œtransitions€ the world is seeing in technology, said Cisco CEO John Chambers in a keynote address at Cisco Live later in the morning.

€œIt is a fanatical approach to catching market transitions and realizing that they wait for no one,€ Chambers said. €œIt is these market transitions or transformations that are going on that really give us an opportunity to really get together in terms of innovation.€

And by €œus,€ Chambers meant Cisco and its customers. He emphasized the importance of being customer-driven at Cisco and not just by paying lip service to it.

Cisco customers told the company what they want from the cloud in the 2012 Cisco "Global Cloud Networking Survey," which showed that 60 percent of IT professionals surveyed said performance of cloud-delivered applications was their top concern, while 66 percent cited cloud security and policy management and 60 percent cited manageability of the cloud. Nonetheless, cloud migration is expected to increase dramatically this year. Only 5 percent of IT decision makers surveyed said they began the year with at least half their applications cloud-delivered; by the end of this year, that is expected to quadruple to 20 percent.

At Cisco Live in 2011, Chambers€™ keynote was more somber as he discussed Cisco€™s need to restructure. Layoffs followed a few months later.

According to first-quarter 2012 figures from the research firm Dell€™Oro Group, Cisco still holds the lion€™s share of the market for Ethernet networking and Wireless LAN (WLAN) equipment. Cisco leads the market for L2 and L3 Ethernet switching, with $3.9 billion in revenue, or a 68.7 percent share. HP was a distant second, with $520 million for a 10.6 percent share. In the WLAN market, Cisco leads with $409 million, or a 54.3 percent share, followed by Aruba Networks ($94.2 million, 12.5 percent share) and HP ($45.7 million, 6.1 percent share).

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