Interview by Ashwani Mishra
The ash cloud caused by the eruption of a volcano beneath the Eyjafjallajökull glacier in Iceland caused travel chaos across much of northern Europe, and the disruption still continues.
Marie Hattar, Vice President, Borderless Networks Marketing, Cisco recalls one such incident where few of her colleagues were grounded at various airports for a few days but still managed to be in sync with the business operations.
Q:Can you provide a quick overview of Borderless Network Architecture and why will enterprise CIOs look at such kind of architecture for their business needs?
A: Mobility has emerged as one of the key trends within the enterprise segment. The number of employees who are trying to be productive and work with various types of mobility devices is increasing fast.
Analysts forecast over 1.3 billion workforce to be connected through devices on WiFi networks over the next two to three years. This will result in new enterprise challenges like scalability, security and providing consistency to the users of these devices.
The Borderless Network Architecture is essentially about connecting anyone with any device. What we intend to do is to ensure this happens securely, reliably and seamlessly.
Another key area is the use of video collaboration in enterprise environments. Recently, I had a few colleagues who were trying to return to the US but because of the volcanic ash, they had a hard time getting back.
Some of our meetings and interactions were possible through the use of video. This example shows that users get flexibility and they can continue to conduct business despite unfavorable circumstances.
Q:How have you placed the role of video in such kind of network architecture and what are some of the issues faced?
A: The role of video is transformational. It allows us to carry out execution of different business models. For example, you can offer medicine to rural villages by utilising the service of doctors in the cities.
You can change the way retail business is conducted. One of the advertisements that we show out there is the concept of virtual video dressing room.
So even if you are unable to find a stock of your choice in the store, using the virtual video you can see how it looks on you.
Take the example of a local branch of a bank. If a customer has a specialised question on equities, the bank branch can bring in a specialist over a video to address the customer’s issue. So they do not have to hire additional staff for such queries.
This is the reason why we believe that video is transformational and drives different behaviour on the network.
Coming to the challenges part of your question, we understand that the requirements for managing video is a lot more sensitive than managing voice on the network.
The priorities that video has is sensitive to latency and jitter. So the requirements on the network are going to be different.
Also, the IT departments are apprehensive as they see the rise of video directly proportional to bandwidth utilised.
We believe that with more video on the network, the requirement of how it needs to be managed and prioritised will change.
One of the parameters that we use today for network measurement is the quality of service, but imagine if everything is video and real-time. How will the network prioritise one over the other?
So there is a need for a new set of architecture and protocols to make this possible. This is where Borderless Network Architecture plays an important role.
The other key market place transition that we are seeing is the workplace experience. The transition is that work is no longer a place where one goes but it is something one does.
Q:But wouldn’t a lot of service providers say that “we do this too.” So what differentiates Cisco from the others?
A: The key difference is that we do this reliably, securely and seamlessly. This is the unique differentiator. In terms of how we bring this to market is by focusing on five key pillars. We call these pillars as network services.
These are capabilities that go across all of our products. The product areas include routing, switching, mobility, security and application acceleration.
We have introduced some key network services with this launch. For video we have introduced MediaNet. It introduces protocols across routing and switching that allows prioritisation and reserve bandwidth.
Another capability that we have introduced is Energy Wise that creates significant savings in terms of power consumption. So if you are not using phones or laptops or PCs it will shut automatically shut them.
We ran this capability for around 10,000 PCs in the office of a public sector company in the US. Their annual energy bill was around US$ 700,000. When they implemented Energy Wise and put in policies to shut down their personal computers and phones when not in use, they were able to reduce the cost by US$ 430,000.
So it is close to 60 percent savings. There is no other vendor that uses the network to provide such high energy savings.
In terms of security, we have introduced a feature called as TrustSec that helps to create policies in an easy manner. We have also added an additional layer of security called as MaxSec which carries out encryption of data.
With these services will want to deliver a better level of service so that businesses can use their IT infrastructure to change their business models.