Our insight


It's a few weeks since Cisco announced the next step in its journey toward simplifying and automating network provisioning and management: Cisco DNA Centre. Building on the APIC-EM, which we've been using for a while to help configure intelligent wide-area networks (iWAN), Cisco promises that DNA Centre will be a transformative tool in network design, provisioning, policy management, and support. It's up to people like me to work out whether and when that promise will be fulfilled.

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I've already written a bit about segregating enterprise networks, and about the new technologies that are making this easier and more effective. As Ideal's solution architect for networks it's something I get asked about a lot, so I thought it might be helpful to look at this from the customer point of view. You can probably boil it down to three questions: Do I need to segregate?, What do I need to segregate? and How do I segregate?

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For a long time, technology has existed in silos: hosted, cloud-based, on-premises, data centres, LANs v WANs v SANs - and that's before you even start to consider all the different proprietary brands, operating systems, backends and consoles it takes to make the average IT operation operate - some manufacturers can't even make all their own products talk to each other. But something interesting is happening with APIs, and the walls between systems are, perhaps, beginning to come down.

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We've been building an increasingly close partnership with Palo Alto Networks - the disruptive next-generation security company behind innovative products like Traps. Last month I was out in Vancouver for Ignite, PAN's annual cyber security conference, and as PAN's UK and Ireland Technical Champion of the Year 2016 I had the privilege of a one-to-one with its engaging founder, Nir Zuk.

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Cisco's unified communications (UC) and telephony systems are pretty much the gold standard for reliability, quality and features, but until now they've been overkill for a startup or many smaller SMEs. If you're running a company of, say, 25-100 people, you need a great phone system, but you probably don't need full-blown Call Manager - or the hardware, software and days of configuration work involved in an enterprise system like Cisco's Business Edition 6000. To be honest, you probably can't afford them either.

That's why we're excited to be offering Cisco's brand new Business Edition 4000 (BE4000): a quality, full-featured IP telephony system in one easy-to-configure box.

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Our series of interviews with women who work in IT and the technology sector was started by co-founder Claire. It's a response, in part, to the lack of female applicants for our job vacancies.

As digital marketing manager and founder of Brighton Digital Women, Rachel Finch is a well-placed advocate for women in Brighton's thriving digital industries. Here she shares her experience, and offers advice to anyone starting their own career in technology.

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We've looked before at how the public cloud, for all its benefits, isn't a one-size-fits-all proposition. From concerns about data security and sovereignty, to my own thoughts about the challenge of managing data and applications across providers, it's clearly not a panacea.

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We've talked a lot about software-defined networking (SDN) and the increasingly intelligent network hardware that enables it. Lately, fellow solutions architect Daren Vallyon and I have been trying to provide a bit more detail about how Cisco is innovating in both areas, with technologies like Digital Network Architecture (DNA) and Campus Fabric.

Our take on the details might be interesting to fellow technologists, but what if you're trying to build the business case for your organisation to invest in new networking technologies?

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Our series of interviews with women who work in IT and the technology sector was started by co-founder Claire. It's a response, in part, to the lack of female applicants for our job vacancies - a particular problem when it comes to technical, hands-on roles.

As product owner team lead for a software company, Lisa Legg has just such a role, but like many other contributors to the series she didn't originally plan or study for a technical career. Here she shares her experience, and offers advice to anyone wanting their own career in technology.

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We're always working to build stronger relationships with long-term, established players, but in the new partnerships we've announced this year, Ideal is also investing in new and exciting technologies. In Rubrik, we've added a partner with something truly disruptive: an appliance-based, converged backup offering that's so 'right' it's a wonder nobody did it before.

I want to explain what it does and why it's brilliant.

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We all know the Internet of Things (IoT) is coming, but a recent conversation made me realise that for some of us, it's already arrived. A colleague here mentioned that he'd got something like 20 connected devices on his home network. That seemed a bit of a stretch, so he listed them. After we'd enumerated computers (5), phones and tablets (5), Kindles (2), Audio and TV kit (4), network hardware (4), IP cameras (2) and a printer, we'd arrived at 23 devices, all on a single home network.

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