Cisco Live 2013: Cisco unveils Unifed Access One Network strategy

Cisco live stage

Cisco has set out the next phase of its unified networking strategy, as it strives to help CIOs cope with the demands imposed on their networks by the explosion in connected devices.

The firm took the wraps off its Unifed Access One Network strategy during the opening keynote of the Cisco Live conference in London.

Its aim is to simplify users' network infrastructure so it can cope better with the demands of mobile workers.

No longer are users a barrier to IT projects, they're a catalyst.

The networking giant's chief technology officer, Padmasree Warrior, gave an example of how the internet has grown over the last 20 years, showcasing the need to manage data. She claimed there were only around 1,000 devices connected to the internet in 1984.

"By 2020, we will have 50 billion [connected] devices...which is creating a lot of data," Warrior said.

Rob Soderbery, senior vice president and general manager for the enterprise networking group at Cisco, said the company's aim is to make networks "simpler, more secure and easier to operate" as the number of devices plugging into them increases.

"[We want] one policy, one where you can describe to users what they can do, how they can transverse the network, what resources [employees, guest and clients] can access," he said.

"[We need] to make sure [the network] has consistent services and capabilities across that network, so no matter where users come in [using wired or wireless devices]."

Underpinning this strategy will be two new products, the Cisco Catalyst 3850 LAN controller, which retails at around $5,000, and the 5760 wireless controller, which costs around $20,000.

Soderbery said the 3850 "brings together the best of Cisco wired and wireless technology in a single box", and can provide 40GB of wireless performance.

"If you're about to go into a wireless closet upgrade, [and you've got a] Greenfield opportunity...the 3850 is a great solution for you," he said.

"If you have existing wireless deployments...and are not in the position to upgrade, [the] Cisco 5760 [has] 60GB wireless performance - 6x the performance [of its predecessor] and is ready to scale for the mobile era.

"These two products are going to be the bedrock of new wired and wireless networks," he added.

During a post-keynote address to the press, Gordon Thomson, director of enterprise networking and security business sales for EMEAR at Cisco, said the firm's Unified Access strategy was designed to stop IT departments being viewed as a "barrier to innovation".

This is because departments are finding their activities hamstrung by network constraints, which means they often cannot respond to end user demands for mobile devices in the workplace quickly enough.

"IT departments need to change and cannot afford to operate in the way they have in the past. They need to improve their speed of execution. They need to reduce complexity and cost," said Thomson.

"iPad, iPhones and Samsung have turned the world on its head. No longer are users a barrier to IT projects, they're a catalyst [by bringing in their own devices] and that's why this announcement is so key."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.