The introduction of wireless networking created something of a conundrum within most enterprise IT organizations. Most of them already had sophisticated tools and policies in place to manage wired networks. Wireless networks required not only a separate set of tools to manage, but more often than not, dedicated networking specialists.
At the Cisco Live! event in London today, Cisco unveiled two new offerings: a new Catalyst switch capable of managing both wired and wireless networks, alongside a new wireless controller that takes advantage of programmable ASIC technology, called the Cisco Unified Access Data Plane (UADP) ASIC, that can be used to create a common data control plane across wired and wireless networks.
According to Prashanth Shenoy, senior manager with the Cisco Enterprise Networking Group, a programmable controller makes it possible to protect investments in wireless network controllers by creating a platform that can be upgraded over time. Shenoy says that means as standards evolve, IT organizations won’t necessarily have to upgrade controllers to take advantage of new advancements in wireless networking technology. The new Cisco 5760 Wireless LAN Controller can support 12,000 clients using 1,000 access points providing as much as 60GB-per-second of bandwidth, which Shenoy says is sufficient to meet the most demanding multimedia requirements.
Meanwhile, Shenoy says a new Cisco Catalyst 3850 Access Switch eliminates the need for managing wireless networks as a separate entity from the rest of the corporate network. Wireless network management functionality has been embedded in the switch, making it possible to seamlessly extend existing software-defined networking policies out to the wireless network. Just as important, Shenoy says the tighter integration with wireless networks makes it possible to more easily scale network bandwidth access in an age where employees have multiple devices that routinely access the network simultaneously.
Cisco also announced upgrades to its Identity Services Engine that add support for mobile device management applications from Good Technology, Airwatch, Mobile Iron, Zenprise and SAP. In addition, Cisco released Prime Infrastructure 2.0, a new version of its management software that adds support for new automated workflows and best practice guidelines.
Like many other areas within IT, the pressure to eliminate the need for specialists to provide the expertise needed to manage a specific technology is mounting. In place of that requirement is a general shift towards managing IT resources at a higher level. From a Cisco perspective, that means not only eliminating the need for dedicated wireless networking specialists, but a whole slew of competitors that have grown up around a need to manage wireless networks that will soon be folded back into the core enterprise network.