The Single-Purpose Network: Myth of the Good-Enough Network

Editor’s Note: This is a post by Michael Rau, Vice President, CTO for the Borderless Network Architecture Cisco.

Did you know that by 2015, there will be nearly one mobile-connected device for every person on Earth? That will mean 7.2 billion people with 7.1 billion devices, according to the Connected World Report, 2010.

Aside from being an interesting factoid, this statistic underscores the importance of the next-generation network—after all, without a solid, reliable network to support those billions of devices, they would be nothing but useless bits of hardware. Last week, I blogged about the The Seven Myths of the Good Enough Network and now I’d like to delve deeper into myth #1–The Single-Purpose Network Myth–as it relates to mobile devices.

Businesses and IT departments are being asked to provide more and more connectivity options for new mobile devices, but they are also under increasing pressure from limited resources and budgets. A network that is just “good enough” is only going to exacerbate these constraints because it is built to serve the single purpose of connecting  users to resources in silos of connectivity whether it be wired, wireless, or VPN.  A single-purpose network also doesn’t address the consolidation of other isolated networks into a single converged platform.  Examples of these networks include building control, card access control, and video surveillance systems.

As mobility demands on the enterprise increase, it becomes critical that an end user is consistently managed as they access the network, whether over a wired, wireless, or VPN connection.

Cisco’s Enterprise Next-Generation Network has a unified architecture, similar to what was used in unifying the data center infrastructure. The unification at the access layer brings together wired, wireless, and VPN with a common set of provisioning, management, and policy capabilities that allows the end customer to deploy the technologies and services they need.

With Cisco Prime for Unified Management and Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE), businesses gain complete visibility into endpoint connectivity―regardless of device, network, or location—and can monitor security policy compliance across the entire wired and wireless network.

This means that an enterprise’s next-generation network can serve multiple purposes: machine-to-machine connectivity (as may be required for new sensor networks)), inventory management reading RFID tags on materials as they move through the supply chain, or assisting a hospital staff to locate wheelchairs or crash carts. And, of course, the network can allow your increasingly mobile workforce to work from anywhere, on any device, and anytime securely, reliably, and seamlessly.

A unified network strategy not only delivers greater ROI, it allows the business to keep up with all the different connectivity options and also allows the end user to work dynamically while not only in the office but also on the road and in their home.  Not only is ROI enhanced by a unified network strategy, but the consolidation of management and policy across all forms of access allows a business to meet the growing connectivity needs of the end users in a fashion that also keeps a close eye on controlling operating expenses.  It becomes the best of both worlds: satisfied end users and operating expenses are in line with expectations.

But there are also other opportunities for a unified network.  Imagine being able to power down the heat and energy in conference rooms that aren’t being used. Lights, devices, and heat are turned on as soon as the conference room is needed, and precious resources are conserved when rooms aren’t in use. With a next-generation network, companies can begin to make the building intelligent and reap the benefits of energy savings

Cisco customers like Panduit are doing just that. By using the network and energy-control capabilities, such as Energywise, they can manage power consumption of network-attached devices.

“By enabling real-time monitoring of our electrical consumption, the Cisco Connected Real Estate framework contributed to energy costs per square foot that are $0.63 lower than the average non-connected building, saving US$176,000 annually and more than $880,000 over five years,” says Darryl Benson, Global Solutions Manager, Panduit.

If you’re investing in networks for a single purpose, you’re missing opportunities to use the power of the network to improve carbon footprint, save energy costs, and provide unified management and policy for wired, wireless, and VPN networks.

One myth down…six to go.

What are some of the “good enough” myths that you’ve been hearing in the industry?

Note:  The seven myths are outlined in a recent white paper from Cisco: Debunking the Myth of the Good Enough Network.

Read the White Paper: When Good Enough Isn’t Good Enough

View the IPTV Broadcast Replay: Debunking the Myth of the Good Enough Network

Michael Rau, Vice President, CTO for the Borderless Network Architecture Cisco.

Mike has been with Cisco for 14 years and is currently responsible for working with customers and partners. In his current role, he helps shape the future direction of the network and how it delivers business value to customers and partners. Prior to this, Mike was the Vice President of WW Enterprise Technical Sales Strategy where he was responsible for developing technical and competitive sales strategies in support of Cisco’s Enterprise go-to-market strategy. Mike has held a variety of other positions at Cisco, starting as a Systems Engineer where he supported Cisco’s entrance into the switching market.

About Michael Rau

Michael Rau, Vice President, CTO for the Borderless Network Architecture Cisco. Mike has been with Cisco for 14 years and is currently responsible for working with customers and partners. In his current role, he helps shape the future direction of the network and how it delivers business value to customers and partners. Prior to this, Mike was the Vice President of WW Enterprise Technical Sales Strategy where he was responsible for developing technical and competitive sales strategies in support of Cisco’s Enterprise go-to-market strategy. Mike has held a variety of other positions at Cisco, starting as a Systems Engineer where he supported Cisco’s entrance into the switching market.